European Updates #5

Courtesy of Czech Extraliga

Where do we start?

The most important thing about European prospects is the playoff matchup between Bili Tygri Liberec and HC Mountfield Ceske Budejovice where Petr Nedved and Jakub Kovar trying to beat each other.

To be honest, Nedved has the edge now with Liberec leading 3-1 in the series. Kovar allowed 11 goals in 4 games (4, 4, 1, 2) but Ceske Budejovice were unable to score more than one goal in two games. It reminds me of the Flyers offensive woes with Roman Cechmanek in net against Ottawa in the 2002 playoffs.

Kovar saved Budejovice many times in these games, but although they have some good forwards like former NHLer Ales Kotalik along with young offensive threats Milan Gulas, Pavel Kasparik or Lukas Kveton, they need to score more against a good defensive team like Liberec.

Nedved has 4 points in 4 games during the Ceska Pojistovna playoff this year. Kovar made two saves against two penalty shots (Note: Jakub is one of the best goalies in the Czech Extraliga in shootouts) in the 4th game but it wasn’t enough. Here’s a quick interview with Jakub after the game:

What is your plan for the next Liberec game?
“We’re going to Liberec with our equipment and jerseys and we’ll come back in Budejovice with a win.”

What was the difference between Liberec and Ceske Budejovice in those two home games?
“Their defensemen block 15, 20 shots and it’s a kind of help you want as a goalie. This is proof that they’re playing on the edge game after game. Even that they were playing without three key forwards at the end of the game, they won. We have a strong opponent and we have to fight.”

Was the power play the difference maker again?
“Definitely, because if we had scored on two of them, we would have played a whole different game. But that’s an ‘if.’”

Translated from hokejcb.cz (The official website of HC Mountfield)

We’re also going to continue with our Czechoslovakian series.Tonight’s star? Jiri Dopita.

He was infamous as well as Cechmanek for being touted as one of the “best players in the world not in the NHL,” but I’ve got proof that he’s still a heck of a hockey player.

Dopita was born December 2, 1968 in Sumperk, Czechoslovakia. He was selected in the sixth round during 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins but he never became part of the Bruins organization. After his short tenure with Dukla Jihlava which was a prominent military club he came back to Olomouc and then he left Olomouc for the Berlin Polar Bears in Germany’s top league.

Dopita was quite successful with Berlin, as he recorded 127 points (58 goals and 69 assists) in 91 games. His best years came along with Cechmanek at Vsetin back in the Czech Republic. Dopita boosted his offensive numbers with this Moravian club. After 6 seasons he finished with 315 points (138 goals and 177 assists). After he won one final title with Vsetin in 2001, he left Europe for the Philadelphia Flyers (Note: Flyers acquired his rights from Florida in Exchange for a 2nd round selection (later traded to Calgary — Andrei Medvedev) where he spent only one season while recording 27 points in 52 games.

It wasn’t bad at all, but given his original billing, people expected much more from the 33-year-old veteran. He did manage to score four goals in one game against Atlanta in January of 2002 but it was the highlight of his Philly tenure. Dopita was traded to Edmonton for a 3rd round selection (Ryan Potulny) and future considerations in 2002. Dopita didn’t get used to Edmonton or the NHL in general and he came back to to the Czech Extraliga where he spent the rest of his career.

Jiri is now playing for his own club — Olomouc.

List of Jiri’s achievements:
Extraliga/DEL
The best playoff player in the Czech Extraliga – 1993/1994, 1995/1996, 1997/1998, 2000/2001
The best player in the Czech Extraliga – 1996/1997, 1997/1998, 1998/1999, 2000/2001
The best goal scorer in the Czech Extraliga – 1996/1997, 1999/2000
The best scorer in the Czech Extraliga – 2000/2001
The best scorer in the DEL (German Elite League) – 1994/1995
International
Olympic Winner – 1998
World Champion – 1996, 2000, 2001
Bronze medalist of the World Championship – 1997, 1998