Saturday, June 25, 2011

Atlanta's Czechs (Part 2)

Thought about an Avalanche draft post, but after about pick three I was at a party, and past Landeskog and Siemens I don't really recognize any of the names. Plus, last night's post serves as proof that I really don't know what I'm talking about -- I got kind of upset that they didn't draft a defenseman with the second pick, but since I'm vastly against rushing defensemen to the NHL anyhow, I should therefore... be against picking one there? Picking one to start in 2011? Oh, god, I don't know. I can't complain about the Landeskog pick, have a strange premonition Siemens will be traded before he ever plays a game for the Avalanche, and they didn't pick any Czechs or Slovaks. There you go, that's your draft post.

Let's move on with the Czech Thrashers instead. Starting with a favorite:

Jiří Šlégr -- one of my all-time favorite hockey players, little of which has to do with his Thrashers time (though I was upset when he was traded). Definitely my all-time favorite Canuck. Never really got the respect he deserved, but he's one of those rare guys who won the triple of the Stanley Cup/Olympics/World Championships, plus he's Jiří Bubla's son so beat that. The best thing about the Red Wings winning Stanley Cups is that Šlégr got a ring. He's now in the Czech parliament, which is awesome.

Ladislav Kohn -- Scrappy guy who could've had a NHL career if things had fallen differently, another one I almost forget was a Thrasher (26 games, seven points). Also ended up lifting the Cup with the Wings, though (correct me if I'm wrong) think he didn't play enough to get his name on. Still plugging away with Třinec in the Czech league.

Milan Hnilička -- All-time leader, NHL-goalie-looking-most-like-Henry-Winkler award. Ended up with a pretty awful NHL record but he never had a very good team in front of him, eventually getting pushed out by the flash of brilliance that was Pasi Nurminen. He's now an official for BK Mladá Boleslav, a team that makes me wonder why we don't see the green-and-black combo more often.

Kamil Piroš -- The Thrashers' move means I can quit wondering when Piroš is going to pan out. He's apparently 32 now, which makes me feel indescribably old -- in my mind he's forever 23 or so, a bright prospect. At one point there were a surprising amount of his training camp-worn jerseys available in the Thrashers team store. I'm tempted to see if they're still there, but that might get a bit emotional. Since leaving the NHL, he's been carrying out his own Grand Tour, seeing Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. He's playing for HV71 next season.

Richard Šmehlík -- I'm not qualified to be GM of any NHL team outside of Alberta, in part because show me any aging Czech defenseman and I'll think "great signing. Fantastic." I thought the Šmehlík signing was the kind of thing that would lead the Thrashers to the next level, blah blah. Instead he played half an uninspiring season for them, was traded for a pick that became Mike Vannelli (now of the Stavanger Oilers), then retired. I think he lives back in Buffalo. Mike Vannelli played in Norway last year. I do have a Šmehlík-signed puck, which looks classy on my bookshelf.

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