NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Plekanec Czech-ing things out overseas during lockout

Canadiens forward enjoying playing with hometown team

  • Print

TOMAS Plekanec is seeing another side to the NHL lockout.

As soon as it became clear the work stoppage would keep him from playing for the Montreal Canadiens this fall, the veteran centre jumped at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For the first time in a decade, the Czech is playing in his hometown for HC Kladno, where sold-out crowds that include parents Pavel and Kveta have flocked to watch the locked-out stars.

"It's very special," Plekanec said Monday in a phone interview. "It's been a good experience. I'm happy to play hockey -- I'm a hockey player -- and unfortunately we're not able to play in the NHL."

Plekanec is among the most successful NHLers playing in Europe, with eight goals and 16 points in 12 games. The Knights of Kladno, a team owned by Jaromir Jagr, were aggressive in pursuing locked-out players and brought over Tomas Kaberle, Jiri Tlusty and Marek Zidlicky to go along with Jagr and Plekanec.

The initial wave of excitement that accompanied their return to Czech soil has been replaced by higher expectations from the fans and media.

"When you don't score for two games, it's in the papers," said Plekanec. "Every team basically we play against, if they beat us it's like they won the Olympics or Stanley Cup almost."

Kladno, which was third in the league standings Monday, is hardly the only team to feature NHL players. David Krejci and Ales Hemsky are suiting up for Pardubice while Vladimir Sobotka and Roman Cervenka are playing for Slavia Praha.

As much as Plekanec has enjoyed the experience in Kladno, he's hoping for a return to the Bell Centre soon. The 29-year-old, who spent the last lockout in the American Hockey League, would be surprised if this one forced him to spend the entire year abroad.

"Obviously you read some news in Canada and the States, and you hear people say 'Oh, we're going to lose the season,' but I don't believe that," said Plekanec. "I can't believe that we would lose all season. I'm sure that they will find a solution and we will start to play pretty soon."

More than 150 locked-out NHL players have signed deals in Europe, with varying results. Here's a look at a few that are having success overseas and some that are not:

STAR TOURISTS

Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, Eisbaren Berlin (Germany): The pair of Flyers forwards lived together in Philadelphia last season and have made themselves right at home in the German capital. In just four games, Briere has three goals and 11 points while Giroux has three goals and nine points. Not surprisingly, the team is on a three-game winning streak.

Ilya Kovalchuk, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Despite joining the team after it had already played six games, Kovalchuk quickly climbed the KHL's scoring chart. He's among the league leaders with seven goals and 19 points in 11 games -- all while wearing the captain's C for SKA.

Rick Nash and Joe Thornton, Davos (Switzerland): The dynamic duo has picked up right where they left off during the 2004-05 lockout, when they starred for Davos. Both are scoring at a point per game rate and Nash has seven goals in eight games overall, showing no ill effects after suffering a minor shoulder injury early in his stay. However, Davos is struggling, sitting 10th in the 12-team league.

TOUGH TRIPS

Max Pacioretty, Ambri Piotta (Switzerland): It ended up being a short stop in Europe for the Habs forward, who sought a release from the team last week after a three-game stint in the press box. Details were murky -- Ambri said Pacioretty had the flu -- but the club endured a 10-game losing streak during his stay, with Pacioretty scoring once in the five games he suited up for.

Evander Kane, Dinamo Minsk (KHL): The only locked-out NHLer from Canada to join the Russian-based KHL so far, Kane still hasn't registered a point in six games. Wearing sweater No. 98, the Winnipeg Jets winger has made an impact on the scoresheet with 41 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct for checking to the head on Monday.

Ondrej Pavelec, Bili Tygri Liberec (Czech Republic): It hasn't been a happy homecoming for the Jets goalie, who is playing for the second-worst team in the Czech Extraliga. Through eight games, Pavelec sported numbers well below his NHL average, with an .891 save percentage and 3.64 goals-against average.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 23, 2012 D2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google