European Updates #3

Last week’s update was all about Jaromir and his birthday. This week is a little different. We have some really good topics about a former Flyers goalie who had his issues here, so take a look.

First of all, it’s very likely that Petr Nedved’s Liberec (4th) will be facing Jakub Kovar’s Ceske Budejovice (5th) in the playoffs. So Flyers fans should be interested in that matchup. Yes, there are still two games remaining in the regular season but both teams are tied with points (80) and Vitkovice have 6 less points than Budejovice.

I was hesitating about this news which has no connection with Flyers. But it’s very sad to see a hockey player lie on the ice without any sign of life. The incident occured in Czech Extraliga between BK Mlada Boleslav a HC Vitkovice Steel. Petr Strapac from Vitkovice hit Tomas Demel from Boleslav approximately six feet from the boards.

This hit wasn’t dangerous at first sight. But Demel fell down badly. There were thoughts that he’s going to die. Fortunately one of the doctors at the stadium saved him life even if Demel is still on Intensive Care Unit. Nearly everyone saw stretches on the ice but in this case an ambulance rode right to the rink. There’s a link for some videos:

The next Czech/Slovak ex-Flyer will be Roman Cechmanek and I think it’s quite apropos to write about him because of Bryzgalov’s struggling.

After setting the world on fire with 10 shutouts in his first NHL year, Cechmanek grew to  be disliked in Philly. He couldn’t succed in the playoffs despite good numbers (see his NHL profile here: Even though he was very good during the regular season.

What’s my point? Do you think that numbers are always important? People might care more about team succes than about statistics. Cechmanek was a proven goalie. If you don’t believe, just keep reading.

Roman was born March 2, 1971 in Gottwaldov (now Zlin), Czechoslovakia. His biggest succes came with HC Vsetin. This team was like the Islanders or Oilers in the 1980’s. They collected 6 titles (5 in a row) and they were almost invincible in the 90’s. Players like Jiri Dopita, Josef Beranek, Patera, Prochazka played here. Roman built his reputation and he became the #1 goalie for the Czech national team.

In 2000, Cechmanek was drafted in the sixth round by Philly. He surprised nearly everyone with stealing the starting job from previous playoff miracle called Brian Boucher. Roman did very well and finished with 2.01 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, which was and is still quite impressive for a rookie. But when playoff came, he started struggling and Flyers took an early exit.

The same happened in the next two seasons again altough he had very good numbers in both the regular season and playoffs. Ironically, he was traded to Los Angeles for a second-round draft pick after he shared the Willam M. Jennings Trophy along with Robert Esche in 2003. The last straw was his yelling at his teammates at center ice during the final game of the Flyers’ playoff series with Ottawa.

LA was his final destination in the NHL. After the lockout he never came back to North America.

Roman wanted to help Vsetin during the lockout because Vsetin was in financial issues and after another season they bankrupted and fell to the 2nd league. (Third highest league in Czech Republic). Then Roman played for different European teams (Hamburg Freezers, Linköpings HC) and finally he came back to the Czech Extraliga for tenure with two teams – Karlovy Vary and HC Ocelari Trinec.

We don’t want to forget about his international success. He’s a three-time World Champion (1996, 1999, 2000), two-time World Championship brozne-medal holder and he helped the Czech Republic win the Gold in Nagano in 1998.

Cechmanek finally retired from hockey for good on August, 13, 2009.

Here’s a summary of his honors and successes:
Czech Extraliga
Champion of the Czech Extraliga – 6-times (5-times with HC Vsetin – 1994-1999) and once with Jihlava in Czechoslovakian Extraliga in 1990.
The best goalie in Extraliga – 6-times (1994-1999)
The best player in the playoffs 1997
National Hockey League
William M. Jennings Trophy – 2003
World Champion – 1996, 1999, 2000
Bronze Medalist on WC – 1997, 1998
Olympic Winner – 1998

  • Daniel Allen

    I believe that one of those years where Cechmanek “lost it” for the Flyers was a series against the Senators in which they scored exactly 2 goals in 5 games. That was surely the goalies fault. ;)

    • Bob H

      Dan, you’re confusing the ’02 series — where the 2 goals in 5 games happened — with the ’03 series. It was in Game 6 at home in ’03 when Cechmanek skated to center ice and yelled at his teammates, which paved the way for his exit. Next day’s backpage headline in the Daily News was unforgettable: “Stinko De Flyo” since it happened on May 5.