Tomas Plekanec had a coffee in Prague with a young Canadian prospect, Jan Mysak. A meeting of just over an hour on Tuesday in the magnificent capital of the Czech Republic, where the former CH center gave some advice of the choice of 2e round of the team in the last draft.
Rob Ramage, the Canadiens player development director, broke the news during a video conference on October 29, saying that Plekanec was to speak to Mysak in the coming days.
Mysak, who recently competed in the Karjala Cup with the Czech Republic squad, has finally had time to sit down with the former Habs number 14 on his return from this tournament.
“It was a great meeting. I would even say it was very good, told Plekanec in a telephone interview to the Newspaper, Wednesday. Jan is a good kid. I was impressed with his attitude and his desire to learn. He’s already figuring out what he’ll need to do to reach the NHL. He asked good questions to understand the mentality of an NHL player. “
Plekanec also liked the initiative of his young compatriot.
“Jan called me pretty quickly after the draft,” he explained. He managed to take the first steps. I thought it was a sign of maturity for an 18 year old young man. He has a great curiosity. He wanted to know what he would have to do to one day become a player for the Montreal Canadiens. ”
A correspondent abroad
At 38, Plekanec has yet to hang up his skates. He wears the colors of the team from Kladno, his hometown, in the Czech Second Division.
The man nicknamed the turtleneck man will always have fond memories of his days in Montreal, where he played 984 of his 1,001 games in the NHL.
Plekanec did not meet Mysak at the request of Marc Bergevin or another influential member of the organization.
“I did not have the feeling of working for the organization of the Canadian, he replied with a smile in his voice. It made me happy to help him, to offer him possible solutions.
“But yes, the Canadian will always remain in my heart,” he continued. If I can give back to the team, I will always be happy to do so. I have the feeling that I have gone through several ordeals during my career. I didn’t have the easy road to the NHL. I spent three years in Hamilton in the American League. I had my moments of doubts when I wondered if I had what it took to reach the next stage.
“I was leaving from the Czech Republic. I had just turned 20 and hardly spoke English. I was not a very big choice in the draft [3e tour en 2001]. I needed to work very hard to have a great career in Montreal. I felt I could share my experience with Jan. It was a way of giving back to a younger one. I sent him my message, reminding him that most of the work was left in front of him. At his age, I had no idea what to expect. I tell myself that by talking to him about my experience, I could enlighten him and help him. ”
A serious young
Mysak, 48e choice in the last draft, did not focus his conversation with Plekanec on the madness of a big market like the one in Montreal.
“It wasn’t really questions about the Canadiens or the city of Montreal, but more about how to play in the NHL,” Plekanec said. He wanted to focus on certain aspects of his game. He was asking me about faceoffs, about defensive coverage for a cross. He asked me what I had done when I started out in North America to adapt to another reality.
“I advised him to have fun, to be serious and to realize that he was lucky enough to be drafted by a very good organization. In addition, the Canadian is an improving team. They have high hopes in all positions. Jan will need to work hard, but he intends to. He is already very mature.
“In my last two seasons in the Czech Republic, I spoke with several young people. I can confirm to you that Mysak belongs to the category of hopefuls who are serious and who really want to learn. There aren’t many young people like him today. I played a game or two against him. He was one of the League’s best prospects in the Czech Republic. He listens, he wants to improve, he has a desire to learn. For me, we are talking about encouraging signs. And he has talent, a lot of talent. He’s a creative attacker. “
Plekanec and Mysak also have one more thing in common. The two spent time in Hamilton. Plekanec played three years for the Bulldogs in the American League, while Mysak would currently play for the Bulldogs in the Ontario Junior League if it wasn’t for COVID-19.
In Kladno with Jagr
Tomas Plekanec has already played eight games this season with the Knights (Rytiri) of Kladno, a second division team in the Czech Republic. At 38, he still has a love of hockey and a very specific goal in mind.
Hockey in the Czech Republic is currently paralyzed, as in many places around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting this European country even harder than in the first wave in the spring with nearly 9,000 cases per day in a population of 10.7 million inhabitants.
“We haven’t played for a month,” Plekanec said. However, we started training again and skating at the arena. We should resume the season within a week. There are still a lot of cases, but it’s better than a few weeks ago. It’s going in the right direction. But the second wave is much more intense and stronger than the first. Really stronger. ”
Plekanec, who is the captain of his team, had amassed 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in eight games before the end of the season.
“I’m still in great shape, I haven’t slowed down,” he replied, laughing. I have good numbers, but I play in a second division. It is not the top as a level. We’re a long way from the NHL. But my mission is to bring Kladno’s team back to the first division. To get there, we’ll have to win the championship. I would like to see Kladno’s team again in the Premier League. “
“I’m playing this year, I’ll probably play next season, ideally in the first division, and after that we’ll see. I could still retire in two years. “
In Kladno, Plekanec should also have the pleasure of playing with longtime friend Jaromir Jagr. The former glory of the Pittsburgh Penguins has yet to play this year.
“Jaromir should start playing again soon. He skates with the team. As I know he should be playing soon. He is 48 years old, he could play until 50 years old. I really believe it. He loves hockey too much. If he doesn’t have a major injury, he’ll hang on.
“At 48, he won’t be the best player in the league, but one of the good. He will still score power-play goals. He’s still having an impact, he’s in good physical condition and he’s still going strong in puck protection. ”
While Jagr will extend his career to probably 50, Plekanec will have choices to make long before that age. But for now, he doesn’t think too much about it. Could a job offer from the CH in a recruiting or player development role charm him?
“I’m still a player, I’m continuing my career. I play at home in Kladno. I still have fun. I do not yet have to ask myself questions about my future, about job offers that might interest me. I will think about it one day, probably in two years.
“I can’t say I’ll never say yes to a job in the NHL. But I still have time to think about it. I focus on hockey in Kladno and on my family. ”