Translations by Tomas Jandik
Vladimir Vujtek interview - MF Dnes - 16-Jul-02
Has Mario Lemieux's presence on the team's roster played any role in your decisions?
It will definitely be great to meet Mario. However, Pittsburgh is a great attacking team and they have a bunch of excellent players. Even though Robert Lang left, they still have Straka, Kovalev, Hrdina.
Have you talked about your role on the team yet? Aren't you, for example, afraid that they may ship you to the line of 'goons'?
That should not happen. Before I signed, we'd solved my team role as well. The team management has certain ideas about my position on the team; they say that it would be worthless to bring me from Europe just to play on the third or fourth line. What definitely helped was my successful season in Finland; I'd say my best in my whole career. However, I am fully aware of the fact that my just past performance won't guarantee a spot on the team's top lines for me; I'll have to prove myself to play there.
How did the negotiations go? Did it take some time for you to decide?
Everything went extremely fast. Yesterday at 2:30 PM I came home from a practice and I got a phone call from my agent Rich Winter who said: 'Pittsburgh has offered such and such one-way contract for one year, with the option for the second year.' I wasn't even able to think about it for long, the trade deadline was coming. So I said yes. I felt that they are really interested in me, and the fact that it was just Pittsburgh was important as well. If it were any other team, I would have probably thought about it for some more.
So you had no idea about the Pittsburgh's interest before?
I wouldn't say that. I talked to my agent usually once a week, and he always told me which teams showed some potential interests. But I haven't received anything firm, the real offer came just yesterday afternoon.
You said you'd come from the practice. How are you preparing for the next season?
I practice with Pavel Kubina and a conditioning trainer, Igor.
Is that some Russian trainer? Did your father [a successful Czech coach who has just lead the team of Yaroslavl to the Russian Hockey League title] arrange some good Russian drill training for you?
Oh no, fortunately not. His name is Igor Horyl, he's a Czech, and his methods aren't that drastic.
After you finish your practicing in the Czech Republic, you'll be headed back to America and the NHL. The last time around, your career over there ended in a really unpleasant way - with a cut-through cheek, a result of a hockey accident. Aren't you afraid that somewhere in the back of your mind, this injury is permanently fixated as an association with this league?
It happened three years ago, that's too long a time for me to be bothered by it. Since then I was able to cope with it perfectly, no memories haunt me. Plus my last season was really successful. If I were scared, it would be pointless to go back. In that case I would not have signed that contract.
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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