Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek will patrol the blueline for Mountfield HK of the Czech Extraliga this fall. After Friday’s 4-1 exhibition game loss to Karlovy Vary, Hronek spoke with Hokej.cz’s Martin Voltr and Mountfield HK’s Jan Bruna (as well as Voltr, who’s working double duty here) regarding his play and his outlook as the Extraliga’s regular season approaches.
What follows is roughly translated (Czech doesn’t translate well to English) from the first article by Voltr, which is fairly straightforward, and overlaps the Mountfield HK article:
Hronek after his premiere: “I have to improve everything. Hradec was a priority”
He was 18 when he last wore the Hradec Kralove jersey. There’s no need to mention how high Filip Hronek has risen in those four years. Now he’s returned to Mountfield, and he played in his first game on the ice against Karlovy Vary on Friday.
How did your second debut for Hradec after four-and-a-half years go?
“It was hard. I hadn’t played for a long time. But I don’t want to make excuses. It was different compared to practicing, and it’s a pity that we didn’t win the game.”
What was your problem?
“My legs didn’t move well. I still have to improve a lot of things for the next games.”
What specifically was a problem?
“Everything,” he smiles. “No, there’s simply more to do and it’s difficult to name something specific now after the game.”
Do you understand the great expectations with which you come to the team? Captain Radek Smolenak said that you’re on another level from the others.
“I don’t know. I definitely appreciate that my boys trust me here. I want to play the best hockey I can, and give as much to the team as possible. I have to play at 100% and help the team to win.”
Did you see Hradec as the clear choice for your current situation?
“It was definitely a priority. But then the negotiations were really long, and we didn’t know how it would turn out, so we resolved something else. But I believed it could work.”
You’re at home…
“Exactly, I’m home and that’s the most important thing to me.”
What’s changed in Hradec after four years?
“Almost everything. Mainly, the boys from the season I played here. Only Capino (Zdenek Cap), Radek Pavlik, Radek Pilar are here, and now Bobby Jank has returned. That’s probably the biggest change.”
So how do you feel about this year’s team?
“We certainly have four balanced lines, we have a strong defense, we have an excellent goaltender. I think the team is well put together, but we have to play much better than we did against Vary.”
Didn’t you find the game unnecessarily nerve-wracking? As if it broke a lot.
“For us, it was the last game before the start of the season, and we definitely wanted to win. I think over-motivation may have played a role there. And even with me, after the long time [not playing], I guess I would say so.”
In addition, you received a penalty instead of Kelly Klima, and you had to sit for almost the entire first period…
“I’d rather not comment [on that]…But it was annoying. We go to Vary for three-and-a-half hours, after a long time I play in a game, and then I st there for fourteen minutes for one step. I don’t know.”
After the game, you were locked in the locker room for twenty minutes. Did the coaches give you a “brushing?”
“Definitely not a brush, but we said the things that needed to be said about the game. There was no roar, it was all said in peace, and most important, truthfully so.”
Do you need to improve a lot?
“Definitely. After a while, the season begins, and every point is important.”
Also of note, from Mountfield HK’s Jan Bruna and Voltr’s article, is the length of Hronek’s contract with the team:
After the game, you were locked in the locker room for a long time. What was going on there on the coaches’ part?
“We definitely weren’t brushed, but we said something about the game. There were things that needed to be said–no roar, everything was said calmly, and, most importantly, truthfully. We need to improve, the season is about to begin and every point is important. There are great fans in Hradec and I’m looking forward to playing for them. It’s hard to say how long I’ll be here, I have a contract until the end of November.”