Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek is going to play for the Czech Republic in the Karjala Cup in Finland over the next four days, but Hronek almost didn’t earn the opportunity to play because he received an “inconclusive” coronavirus test when he arrived in Finland.
As a result, he spent his birthday in his Helsinki hotel room, and he spoke with Hokej.cz’s Vaclav Jachim about his situation. What follows is roughly translated:
Hronek on taking a leading role on the Czech team at the Karjala Cup: If necessary, I will be happy to help!
After taking a test for coronavirus at the border, he spent hours of uncertainty [alone in his hotel room], but he’s already well and really looking forward to a sharp start of the Karjala tournament. Filip Hronek received a permit from Finnish Hygiene and is fully practicing with the Czech national team. During the first event of the Euro Hockey Tour, he will be one of the key pillars, and the Detroit defenseman himself has shown great desire for a chance to join the elite.
The last time he was named MVP because he performed greatly. At the 2019 World Championship, Hronek was named the best defenseman of the tournament, and he was also named to the tournament’s all-star team. Now he’s in the position as one of the team leaders, but he doesn’t admit as much. “There are other experienced players here,” he says with a clear head.
According to coach Pesan, you were glad that you would not have to rake leaves around the area in Dobris [in the Czech Republic].
“It’s definitely great to be on the national team, especially now that nobody’s playing in the Czech Republic. It was nice to slide in [with the team in] Dobris, but it’s not something I want to do every day (smiles).”
How did you cope with having to wait long hours for the hygienists to let you start the tournament in Finland?
“I was a little taken aback, and hoped it would turn out okay. I could have slept a little more. There was probably a lot of work done around it, and it’s good that it turned out well in the end. It was great to practice in the rink again.”
Other NHL players currently playing in Europe will not take part in the Euro Hockey Tour. How did you decide to take part?
“The country is the one that decides. Any action at this level is going to move me forward.”
Martin Kaut recently moved from Pardubice to Sweden; have the Red Wings asked you to move to Sweden after the lockdown in the Czech Republic?
“Not at all. They didn’t even send me to go play in the Czech Republic. It was mostly my choice.”
You celebrated your 23rd birthday on Monday [in the hotel]. Have you ever been that sad as you were in the hotel room in Helsinki?
“To be honest, I don’t celebrate birthdays. When I was alone in America, I was without anyone. I didn’t suffer much.”
Will it be difficult to get your game rhythm back at the Karjala tournament? After all, you haven’t played in a long time.
“Well, we’ll see on Thursday, in the game against Sweden. I practiced for the first time on Monday afternoon, and the workouts were brisk but short. So I think that’s fine on my part.”
The current Czech roster also consists of quite a few young players. What is your role on the team?
“I know a lot of guys here; I’ve met most of them sometime in the past. I’m not old enough to know all the younger guys. There’s no problem with that. And my role? We’ll see, I’ve already played some games for the national team.”
Does a leadership role stirr within you? Maybe that you could become the team captain?
“I don’t know, that’s a difficult question. It’s not just about who the captain is; you have to go into each game responsibly and play as best you can. There are a lot of experienced guys on the team, it’s not just about the defensemen who have some experience behind them. If necessary, I will definitely be happy to help.”
Do you have any more accurate information about the new NHL season?
“In truth, I have no idea. While everything is solved, nothing is a given. The season will definitely be interesting, from the point of view that we don’t yet know when it will actually start. After returning home, I plan to continue playing with Hradec Kralove for the time being.”
A Czech Extraliga round is being prepared for on Monday, which can be quite a lot of action given that you’ll be playing in two weekend games in Helsinki.
“I don’t think there will be a problem with that. The flight home will be short, this is how you travel in America, games also go along quickly. I don’t think it will be an obstacle.”
What do you have to say about what’s going on in Detroit? The changes that took place during the long break with the team? For example, Greiss, Marc Staal and Ryan have signed contracts.
“I hope it helps us make this upcoming season better than last year. They are definitely quality players, they have been playing in the NHL for a long time. I believe we could have a playoff team soon. But you know how it is–that’s what everyone wants. The NHL is very balanced, it is very difficult to make the playoffs every year.”
In Finland, you have a relatively robust beard. Did government measures in the Czech Republic due to coronavirus cause you to not to be able to visit a barber shop?
“Yeah, there wasn’t much to choose from (laughs). But they promised me some trimming, so we’ll see what they come up with.”