The Czech is in the Mail

Minnesota and Czech born players just don't seem to mix. I don't know if it is the Scandinavian nature of the state or if they just aren't able to get the right food. No matter what, Czechs and Minnesota don't seem to mix.

The first Czech that I paid attention to as a fan was Martin Škoula, the 6' 3", 200+ pound defenseman. He was the whipping boy of most of the fans that I interacted with no matter that Jacques Lemaire loved the guy. He was "ok" in my book, but it would aggravate me every time I heard an announcer state; "Skoula can't keep it in." That phrase became common enough, that if it were turned into a shot-per-phrase drinking game, any fan playing would have died of blood alcohol poisoning.

Even after Skoula left for free agency, there were fans that would yell "Get off the ice, Skoula" the following season. Yes. My wife and I sat in several different sections at the start of the next season and we frequently heard some inebriated fan shout that a player who was no longer with the team, should get off the ice. That is how badly a lot of fans wanted to drop that Czech in the Mail.

The next Czech that the Wild signed was Martin Havlat. I'll get to him later.

To make Martin Havlat happy, we also signed Petr Sykora. Frankly, I didn't understand this signing because this also coincided with the administration change from Risebrough/Lemaire to Fletcher/Richards. The stated goal of the new Fletcher/Richards direction was to play a fast and up-tempo system. Petr Sykora, fast and up-tempo? Uhm, no, he was most definitely not either of those while he was with Pittsburgh and he certainly seemed to have come into the Wild organization with a lost step or eight.

For a while, there was a twitter meme going to #FreePetr. Todd Richards was making him a healthy scratch more often than not, and with the team having trouble scoring goals, there were fans that were unhappy with that decision. Unfortunately for Petr, the #FreePetr movement took a turn to a different meaning. His on ice play was troublesome, causing a lot of goals against, and he was just bad. He turned into yet one more Czech that needed to be mailed, and Fletcher eventually put him on unconditional waivers and he was gone.

The storied history of Martin Havlat with the Wild included him being relatively healthy, yet somewhat of a primadonna. I feel that it is necessary to remind the readers that Martin Havlat called the Wild on July First. The Blackhawks had already made the decision to move on from their Czech, not really mailing it away, just letting it "bounce" for Marian Hossa. For a brand new GM to get a call from Havlat's agent on Free Agent Frenzy day? No brainer to sign him. Or was it?

This particular Czech also never seemed to fit. There were some instances of "rumors" coming out of the team's practices that Havlat was having personality conflicts with our Kaptain Koivu. There was a water bottle instance of conflict with the team and probably the worst thing a player can do in the NHL, happened. Havlat complained about his ice time, through his agent. After that, it really seemed that Havlat mailed in his on ice performance every night and was not the difference maker he was brought in to be. Sure, he had chemistry with Latendresse and Brodziak for a while, but at this point, I would hope that every fan realizes that Brodziak makes any player with him better.*

Chuck Fletcher mailed the Czech to San Jose in his purchase of a Heater.

Now, the Wild organization has one more Czech to write. Marek Zidlicky.

As detailed here and here the woes and worries surrounding Mark Idiocy (Damn you auto-correct!) are well documented.

In other venues, I've gone so far as to somewhat defend Mark Idiocy. Again, to a relative degree only, because I still resent Doug Risebrough for trading a 2nd round pick and Ryan Jones to Nashville for the guy. Mark Idiocy is what he is; A Czech Offensive Defenseman who cannot thrive in a system in which he is the "primary" situational threat.

He had a great year when he was paired with Marc Andre Bergeron. Our opponents knew that MABs had a more deadly shot, so they would gravitate towards his lanes during penalty kills. Mark Idiocy was still more horrible, defensively, than even the guy whose name rhymes with the spanish word for "shark". Idiocy can see the ice very well, but he refuses to shoot unless the shooting lane is perfectly clear. Otherwise, he will pass it back to the left point or down to the forward on the right wall. Sure, this works, but if he is relied upon as the primary shooting threat? He'll just dump the puck to whomever.

Here is a clear example, as I remember it; The Wild were on the Power Play with Idiocy manning the right point. Koivu was on the right wall and Cullen was on the left point. Idiocy passed the puck to Cullen, who was covered, and he held onto it for a moment and then passed it back to Idiocy. Then, the puck was passed to Koivu, who was also covered well, and immediately, Koivu blasts a pass back to Idiocy, who tries to tap it to Cullen. At this point, the opponents knew exactly what was going to happen, and they intercepted the puck for an easy, easy clear. The problem? Mark Idiocy had a clear shooting lane and was not covered. It was wide open, he had a screen in front, and no one was even pressuring him. No shooting.

Things have come to a head. GM Chuck Fletcher would like for this Czech to clear because a) he is causing locker room issues and b) he went to the media with (delusional?) issues that he was having with the coach, the system and the staff. Mark Idiocy's agent leaked that he wanted a trade to New Jersey. All of these things, frankly, you just don't do.

Does it seem that the Wild has an issue with bad Czechs? Our owner has plenty of money, so I wouldn't think that our Czechs would bounce.

*Point to emphasize how Brodziak makes other players better. Idiocy shot the puck tonight, broke his stick, and Kyle Brodziak earned Mark Idiocy an assist on that play. Just sayin'...

Update: Mark Idiocy traded less than 8 hours when this was posted. Foster, Veilleux, Palmieri, a 2013 2nd and a very conditional 3rd.

6 comments:

  1. Funny article. But Havlat DID play very well after his agent went to the media...22g 56pts in 68 games.

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    1. Yeah, he did play well after that. Sykora didn't after his agent went to the media.

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    2. Oh and I'm glad you got the humor. I think I over-drafted my pun account. :)

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  2. I seem to remember after the "incident" Havlat was given more ice time and was one of the best players on the team. That is until Fletcher informed him of his wish to trade him. Havlat seemed to have the air knocked out of him after that and didn't play to his abilities. To say Brodziak made Havlat a better player is a bit ridiculous. If they signed Sykora because Havlat was his friend ( which I doubt) what is there to say about Mittens then on the 1st line with his pal Koivu? Just keep signing Finnish players and you'll be fine I guess.

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    1. We can thank #FireToddRichards for the fact Miettinen was on the top line. Last week, I was researching Owen Nolan and the lines during his time here. It also happened to be Lemaire's last two years. Jacques didn't use Miettinen on the top line that often. Most of the time, he was on the third line.

      Brodziak does seem to make the players he is with better. Havlat was struggling before he was put on the line with Brodziak. To fully flesh out that thought, I think it would be safer to say that Brodziak opens up ice through the way he plays. He is a worker and willing to get his nose dirty. That benefited Havlat while he was with the Wild and it was also a trend while Havlat was in Chicago. He thrived there on the "third" line as well as he did here.

      As for why Sykora was signed? Do a quick search back through Russo's Rants. Fletcher basically implied that the reason they brought Sykora in was both his willingness to shoot and the international play with the other Czechs.

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  3. Bye bye Zids .... Under the circumstances looks like Fletch got max value.

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