Hlavac set for new hockey challenges in Vancouver

Originally published on EuroReport.com in 2001

By Lucas Aykroyd

It hurts to be dumped. But maybe if you’re being dumped by Philadelphia GM Bobby Clarke, it doesn’t feel so bad. At least if you ask Eric Lindros. Jan Hlavac, who was shipped to Philadelphia in the deal for the Big E last summer, is the latest ex-Clarke protégé to be nursing a broken heart (not) after being traded to Vancouver for enforcer Donald Brashear on 17 December. The flashy left wing is expected to add punch to Vancouver’s mediocre offense, as he racked up 28 goals and 36 assists on a line with Petr Nedved and Radek Dvorak in his sophomore season with the New York Rangers. But it would require a huge surge in production for Hlavac to equal those numbers this year. The 6-0, 200-pound native of Prague is currently on pace for less than 30 points. EuroReport scored an exclusive interview with Hlavac after he made his home debut as a Canuck in a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on 23 December.

EuroReport: How did you feel out there tonight?

Jan Hlavac: I’m disappointed we lost another game. Three in a row, so that’s pretty bad. It’s tough to play against Minnesota, guys like these. They’re all over you. But we should have beat them, for sure.

EuroReport: How are you adjusting to Vancouver’s style of play?

Hlavac: I like the Canucks style better than Philly, you know. They’ve got a more European style. They play up-and-down hockey. I like it.

EuroReport: What are your first impressions of the city itself?

Hlavac: I know the city is beautiful. I’m very good friends with Petr Nedved and he told me about everything, so I’m sure I’m going to like it here.

EuroReport: Petr was a great center for you last year in New York. How compatible are you with Brendan Morrison so far?

Hlavac: He’s great. I like to play with “Mo” because he’s a world-class centerman. I hope we’re going to play good together and score some goals. That’s what the management wants from us. Hopefully we’re going to get some in the next few games.

EuroReport: Is there a sense of disappointment that Philadelphia traded you after only half a season?

Hlavac: You know, I think I wasn’t going to fit in there. You know how Flyers hockey is. They like big guys, tough hockey, they dump the puck a lot. That’s wasn’t my style and that’s why they traded me, probably.

EuroReport: Will you be looking for some revenge when the Flyers visit Vancouver on New Year’s Eve?

Hlavac: It’s just going to be another game. I don’t want revenge on anybody. I just want to do my best, and if I score, I’ll be happy.

EuroReport: What was your reaction when the Czech Olympic roster was finalized and you didn’t make the cut?

Hlavac: I spoke with the coaches about a month and they told me my chances were like fifty-fifty that I would be chosen. I didn’t play a lot in Philly, so that’s probably why they didn’t take me.

EuroReport: Who’s going to win the Olympics?

Hlavac [laughing]: That’s a good question, actually! I don’t know. Every team’s got a chance: Canada, USA, Czechs, Russians. No prediction!

EuroReport: Can you believe it was just two years ago you scored the winning goal for the Czechs at the World Championships in Norway?

Hlavac: That was probably the best moment of my life.

EuroReport: How closely do you follow your old team, Sparta Praha, during the NHL season? Do you stay in touch with the guys back home?

Hlavac: Of course! Actually, I always practice with these guys during the summer, on the ice and off. That’s my team. I grew up there, so I’ll always like them.

EuroReport: Who were your favorite players when you were growing up?

Hlavac: We were under the Communist system, so I didn’t know the guys in the NHL.

EuroReport: How about Czech guys?

Hlavac: My favorite player was [Vladimir] Ruzicka.

EuroReport: “Rosie”! Great player.

Hlavac: I always watched him. He was a great player and a good scorer.

EuroReport: What would it mean to you to get your first taste of NHL playoff action?

Hlavac: I hope we’re going to make the playoffs this year. I’m so excited about that, because that’s why we play. You want to be there.

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