Translations by Tomas Jandik
Roman Cechmanek interview - 'Sport' daily - 17-Jan-02
You just signed a new contract for a very generous sum of money. With this kind of cash, they already have to respect you, right?
I don’t know what it will do. We discussed the contract over several weeks, and ultimately reached an agreement. I wanted a contract that would guarantee a certain position for me. So that I can play forty or fifty games and not just sit on the bench. I can say now that I was successful [negotiating that].
You haven’t got many opportunities at the start of the season. Do you think that the problems are over now?
The first three weeks weren’t very good on my part, my performance was just average, and I am aware of that. In addition, Boucher played almost too well, and so did the team. Then he got injured and I returned to the goal. I can say that I have played quite well since then, and the only issue now is to continue playing like this until the end. These days I am perfectly OK. It is difficult to say, though, how long I will stay with the Flyers. It may very well happen that they’ll trade me somewhere else.
In the Czech Extraleague, and, actually, even during your premiere season in the NHL, you were utilized permanently. Was it difficult to get used to the different situation?
You have to cope with that. The season is long and it's clear that a lot of things will happen. Nobody can think that he can just come and everything will work without problems.
Still, you have expressed your disappointment several times publicly. From the outside, it almost seemed like you are living through maybe the most difficult period of your career.
No, it wasn’t. The worst situation for me was at the very beginning, just after I came to America. The fact is that I have been able to take something from that into the future. I was able to see how some people behaved during that time.
Your excellent performance the last year got you among the Vezina Trophy candidates. Didn’t this actually play a disservice for you a little?
It is difficult to answer this. There were more factors that influenced what was happening. One of them was the pressure of the overseas media. For example, they tended to push Brian into the goal every way possible.
You just mentioned the media scene in the NHL, which tends to be very harsh when dealing with European players. You have become the center of critiques and doubts as well. How did you cope with those attacks?
I don’t talk to the media. I was interviewed a while ago, and then they wrote about me that I don’t know how to speak English. So I no longer do interviews. There are many similar things like that. Here, they try to push the Europeans to the corner, and I am not willing to make an idiot out of myself. Fortunately, I am older and emotionally stronger now, so I tend to cope with this quite well.
In the last several weeks, even Jiri Dopita found himself in the position of a sought-after target. Maybe you with your experience could have acted as a shield…
I have to admit that sometimes I don’t understand the local journalists. I have a feeling that they don’t want us over here, and the only thing they care about is to make our work more unpleasant. I don’t know what to think about it.
Do you think that the overseas media are harsher, in general?
I’d say that it is the same everywhere. In the NHL, though, the home players are favored. It is visible especially in Philadelphia, where they weren’t used to having Europeans on the roster. They have never had many of them, so our situation has been considerably tougher. Still, I am OK, I don’t worry about that. I signed the new contract, which assures that they won’t ‘sweep the floor’ with me anymore. And it doesn't matter whether I’ll stay with the Flyers or whether they'll ship me somewhere else.
It is not usual to see two players from the same Extraleague team playing for the same NHL team. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why you are able to distance yourself from all those problems so easily.
It is good both for me and Jirka Dopita, because we can discuss a lot of stuff together. Sure, we have known each other since playing for Vsetin, but that’s not that important. The point is to have just two Czechs on the roster – and you are not alone when dealing with problems.
You are one of the three goalies whom the [National Team] coach Augusta has selected to play in the Olympics tournament. Have you already thought about the [goalie] ranking that the team will utilize in Salt Lake City?
We discuss the tournaments with the guys from the other [NHL] teams, but we never talk about the roster. Only the coaches will decide who to put into the goal. Personally, I am not concerned about that; it’s a short competition, and all the decisions will be made when we get there. I just want to be perfectly prepared, and I’ll leave the rest on the other people. It is very important for me as well as the other guys to be successful. And most importantly – to end up ahead of Canadians and Americans. They are preparing for the tournament as well, and they’ll do all they can to succeed
Tomas Jandik is the resident Czech on LetsGoPens.com and is a man who unifies all the goodies of the American dream - meaning, of course, being a Pitt graduate, a Razorback, and a Penguins fan.
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