Filip Zadina spoke with ISport.cz’s Kvetoslav Simek recently, and I asked any Czech-speaking Wings fans for assistance in translating the article. Martin Pohanic stepped up, and here’s his translation of Zadina’s conversation. Many thanks to Martin!
Detroit’s gonna help me, but It’s up to me, says Zadina. Now, He’s battling driving school.
He made his first strides on skates in Trinec. It’s also the same city Filip Zadina is doing his offseason drills this summer, under supervision of his father Marek. Filip was taken 6th overall in this year’s NHL draft. NHL is my boyhood dream and I will do whatever it takes to get there. Now He wants to get ready to make the jump to professional hockey.
Finish driver’s school, finish his third year in high school and get ready for the NHL. All of these are Filip’s current tasks. It’s been a busy summer so far. He’s checking every box on his list one after another. Step by step, He’s going for his dream. “That’s How my father taught me. Never stop skating and always move your feet,” says Filip smilingly.
Has this been your toughest summer so far?
“Yeah I think so. Everything went so fast eversince the combine and NHL draft approached. I didn’t have time to do anything, not even practice. I’m glad it all calmed down a bit after the combine and I could start getting ready for the next season. Then the draft came and afterwards, I could really put some work in. I’m practicing in full swing now. I want to be ready physically and strength wise as well.”
Is it harder for you to get ready physically or mentally?
“It’s gonna be really hard mentally as well, but I don’t care. It’s part of the sport. I’ve been waiting for something like that and I’m glad. I’d rather deal with this than deal with the situation when nobody is interested in you. I love hockey and training. It’s fun. I’ve put in a lot of work and I want to be prepared”
But you’re not dealing only with hockey, right? How are you doing at driving school?
“Luckily, We’re driving in Tesin. It’s the kind of town with moderate traffic and It’s a lot calmer there. I’m focusing on getting my driver’s license so I could take a drive to the rink in the USA. If I were to take a driving school there, It would be really challenging for me as a beginner”
What causes you the biggest problems in a car?
“Crosswalks are the worst, because someone could jump on the road right in front of me and force me to break wildly. I must not panic and keep calm.”
And How’s the study going?
“I’m trying to do the correspondence class, but it’s pretty hard. I don’t have strength to study during the season. I do have some time but I’m lacking mental strength to do it. But I’m doing my best and I hope I can finish the third grade to keep going. It’s gonna be much of the same after next season as well. A lot of catching up to do every summer.”
What kind of school do you study?
“Sports management in Kladno. They understand that I play hockey overseas and they’re really nice to me.”
Isn’t it the same school Jaromir Jagr graduated from in his thirties?
“I don’t know exactly. But If I could have the same career as Jagr and prolong my study as a result, I wouldn’t be mad at all. I could easily graduate in my forties and wouldn’t care a bit.” (smile)
Last year, You’ve also skated in Trinec during summer. Do you have any special relationship to the city?
“I was born in Pardubice, but I was raised in Trinec. My dad played for Trinec for a long time. I went to kindergarten there. I made my first steps in the old stadium. I learned to skate and some basics in there too. But I really started to play hockey when I returned to Pardubice. My first strides on skates were in Trinec, though.”
You were selected by Detroit. How many times since then Have you heard about young players having a rough go in the Red Wings organisation? It’s said It takes a long time to crack the first team’s lineup.
“I have heard about it a couple of times to be honest. But It’s always up to the player himself. If He’s not that good, He is sent to Grand Rapids to get some playing time. A player needs to get his money’s worth to get to the NHL. However, I think when you’re drafted this high, the team’s trying to help you as much as possible. It’s not like they send you down just for the sake of it. I do believe the team is willing to help me a lot. It’s only up to me. They wouldn’t have the reason to send me down If I play well you know. If you’ve got what it takes, you play, If not, you’re going down to put even more work in.”
Detroit hasn’t drafted this high for 28 years. Could that also be a factor?
“Yes It could. They’ve always had a great team, but missed the Playoffs the last couple of years. That is actually good for me as I can show them I’ve got what it takes to help the team get back into contention.”
Do you feel like the club could take the path of youth, speed and ferociousness?
“Yeah, I think so. They will want to play like that and build the squad that way as well. They’ve not been scoring a lot of goals and kept losing too many one goal games. They scouted me and told me I can score and that I’ve had a good season last year. They picked me because I can shoot, score and pass. They’re gonna expect those things from me and I hope I won’t disappoint.”
In June, You attended the youth camp in Traverse city. The team representatives were thrilled by your performance. How do you reflect on that?
“I was ready for the camp and went there well prepared. All the tests went OK. I didn’t lag behind in anything. My teammates were good as well. The were really nice to each other. There is a rivalry in there, no doubt, but the guys usually keep it clean. When they see someone is better than them, they try to get on his level. There is not a bad blood between young players fighting for spots, unlike in Czech Republic. I guess It’s just a different mentality in the US.”
Did you already develop chemistry with someone ?
“I played with Michael Rasmussen. He was drafted last year, I think 9th overall. He’s a net-front type of player. A tall, strong and hungry centreman. I wouldn’t mind playing with him in the future at all. But I don’t know what the coaches are thinking.”
Is your head set on NHL right now?
“Yes. I’m going there to fight for my spot all season. If things don’t work out, they will probably send me down to work on my game.”
Is a potential return to Europe, to get more playing time in pros, in play? A similar path as Martin Nečas chose last year.
“I already played in juniors last year and I don’t want to make the transition from small rink to a bigger one again. I want to stay on smaller ice. It suits me better. NHL is my dream. I could play in Europe later, If things go south for me overseas. But NHL is my boyhood dream and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”
There was a poll in Detroit recently. It regarded a sports future of the city. Larkin finished first and you were second. Baseball and football players came in after you. How does that sound?
“Yeah, I saw the results. I didn’t even know such poll existed. It was nice. Now, I don’t want to disappoint people who voted for me. I don’t want them to think their expectations were too big when all is said and done.”
You’ve been practicing under supervision of your father for a long time now. Does It suit you to have things this way?
“Definitely. I always cared about his opinion. It’s perfect when I practice here. I’m thankful for it. The conditions here in Trinec are probably the best in the entire country. The local team is really strong and that pushes me forward. It’s high tempo all the time.”
Did you get any coaching advice from former NHL player and current head coach of HC Ocelari Trinec Vaclav Varada?
“I am definitely going to ask him for a piece of advice, so I can pick up on some new things. He used to be a great player after all.”
I bet your dad would like to see you in your first NHL game. The question is, Will He be able to come and see you with all the work He’s got?
“First off, We’ve gotta find out If I even fight my way through to the NHL. If I do make it, We’ll see If they let him go. He’s got a lot of duties here, but I would really love to see him make my debut. But at the same time I understand He’s got work here.”
Who could step in for him If He couldn’t make it? Your mom or grandparents perhaps?
“I would like to have all of them around. All the people who helped me along the way, especially dad.”
You mentioned that Trinec has a great facility. But Detroit has a new arena as well. How is it?
“It’s really nice. It has unreal background. I don’t even feel like I’m in the locker room. It feels more like a hotel.”
Did you manage to get lost in there ?
(Smile) “To tell the truth, I did for the first time. It’s so big. Luckily, the equipment manager showed me around later on. It just shows you the path to the NHL is twisted and difficult. Sometimes even like a labyrinth.”