European Updates: 2.1.12

Hello, everyone! I would like  to introduce you all to my new column. It’s a weekly update on hockey from Europe. It’s not only about (former) Flyers in Europe but also about other news from across the pond. Teemu H does a great job providing updates over at BSH, and this column aims to add some supplemental coverage.

  • Jakub Kovar gets the nod in Czech national team for Oddset Hockey Games along with Tomas Popperle. What does it mean for him? Both Jakub and Tomáš are fighting for the third goalie spot in the World Championship (after Ondrej Pavelec who is supposed to be #1 and #2, Jakub Stepanek.
  • It’s interesting that Kovar isn’t the only Flyers-related player for the tournament. 40-year-old Petr Nedved goes as well as Lukas Kaspar and Petr Hubacek.
  • This column will provide updates about every Czech or Slovak player who wore the Flyers uniform, starting with Josef Beranek.

Beránek is quite famous in the Czech Republic and he also had a decent career in the NHL. Josef was born on October, 25, 1969 in Litvinov. This town belongs to a hockey hotbed along with Kladno, Jihlava or Trencin in the former combined country of Czechoslovakia.

So many talented players wore CHZ Litvínov jersey, for example Ivan Hlinka, Vladimír Ruzicka or Martin Rucinsky. Beránek played 2 seasons (1987-1989) for CHZ after which he left to Trencin. He was selected by Edmonton in the 3rd round (78th overal) in 1989 draft. In his first season he played 58 games and recorded 28 points (12G, 16A). On January 16, 1993, in his second season, he was traded to Philadelphia Flyers along with Greg Hawgood for Brian Benning.

Although his time with Philadelphia was quite short (he was traded after two years to Vancouver), he put up very good numbers. He collected 25 points (13G, 12A) in 40 games during his first , 49 points (28G, 21A) in 80 games in his second and 10 points (5G, 5A) in 14 games in his final season with the Flyers. During the ’94-’95 lockout he came back to the Czech Republic. But he chose Vsetin instead of Litvínov and he came to Vsetin 3 times.

Vsetin built up an impressive dynasty in the 90’s. They won 6 times Czech Extraliga and 5 times in a row. In this time players like Roman Cechmánek and Jiri Dopita became stars because Vsetin had unlimited financial possibilities and they literally bought every player who was availiable. Later Vsetin went bankrupt and fell back into the second league but that’s another story. The Flyers eventually traded him to the Vancouver Canucks for Shawn Antoski after the lockout. He never lived up to expectations in Vancouver and they sent him to the Penguins. He played in Pittsburgh twice (1996-97 and 1999-2001).

His best time came with the best time of all Czech players whose peak was in later 90’s – Winter Olympics in Nagano, 1998. The Czechs won it in thrilling finale against the Russians, 1-0 in a shootout. Later on, Beránek came back to the NHL and wore Edmonton jersey where he matched his career high 49 points.

After the 2000-2001 campaign, he decided to go to Slavia Prague where he retired after 9 seasons. His NHL totals are quite decent – 531 games and 262 points (118G, 144A). He never won the Stanley Cup or the World Championship.