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Interview with Czech Red Wings scout Vladimír Havlůj

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01-02-2011, 07:54 AM
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slovakiasnextone
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Interview with Czech Red Wings scout Vladimír Havlůj

OK, here´s a translation, might be a little bit crappy, but you can get the general idea. Thanks to czechexpert for pointing it out. I thought that I might add an opinion a bit from the "other side" different from scouts, so I thought I´d post parts of an interview with Robert Švehla (chief of youth development or something of that sorts in Dukla Trenčín) that I originally translated over at IHF, because I think he makes some interesting points as well.

Interview with Vladimír Havlůj
Quote:
What specific do you rate on players?
We follow 5 basic things: skating, game skills, hockey IQ, physical parameters and the approach to hockey- whether a player gives his heart into the game. Each of these chapters has its subchapters. Additionally each player is rated overall then, if whether he is suitable for the NHL or for an other league.

What´s the most important for the player?
For us it´s significant, whether he has one or two skills in which he absolutely excels. I´ll use the example of Jirka Hudler, who has a genial hockey IQ and excellent hans, but he is an average skater and has an underaverage height. Despite that he´s playing in the NHL. While a player that has everything just "better" isn´t so interesting for the NHL. Physical condition is also very essential. It´s impossible without it.

Does a standardized rating system for players like for example a point scale exist?
Every team has its own system. In Red Wings we use combined rating- numerical and verbal. In the numerical system we have a scale from 1 to seven, when seven is the best and belongs to franchise players. Sidney Crosby is an example of a 7 rated player. You´ll find only one or two such hockey players in an NHL team. Six belongs to stars playing in the top 6. And it gradually goes down like this. For example the number 3 means a player between the first team and the farm team. We don´t know whether he´ll be able to hold on to an NHL spot.2 is for farm team players or European leagues players. 1 usually means older players, playing on the farm or in Europe and if we follow him, usually because of trades. Or players who belong to the NHL with their performance and who can be ated in the full point scale, but because of various reasons, mainly financial, are playing in the KHL or other European leagues- Jaromí Jágr is an example of that. And there also is 0, which we use for players that I definitelly don´t want.
I also rate the players based on how he plays in a concrete game- whether he had a good game, whether he played up to his abilities, or whether he can do more. For example we have him ranked as a 2.league player, but he had a good game, so he gets a high rating for one concrete game. But that still doesn´t mean we think he is good enough for the NHL.

You explained the numerical ratings, what about the verbal one?
That´s basically the description of the player. When I see a player for the first time, I determine what type of player he is. And when i see him numerous times, I rate the individual attributes, as I already explained. The last type of rating is that we create a ranking of players, that every scout creates for the country he is in charge of. So I do one, Hakan Andersson does the next one and so. Then we change places, so I go to Sweden and Hakan commes here for example. Additionally, also colleagues from NA arrive to Europe, who also create their ranking. Then we meet and we basically argue about the rating lists and players (smile).

So basically it´s a collective job?
Exactly. To say for example that I drafted Hudler is nonsense. Of course my bligation is to point out such a player and to get my boss to focus on him. But the result is not just my merit. We have a principle that at least four people have to see a player. It happened that I had chosen a player, but he then got injured, so noone else could have seen him. That was for example the case of Pardubice´s Petr Sýkora. Detroit drafted him in the 3rd round, but then it was shown that he "doesn´t have a heart". If more scouts had seen him and one of them had maybe seen it and we woud decide not to draft him. And if yes, then not so high.

When you´re rating "heart", do you only follow the player on the ice or do you have talks with him as well?
Usually, you can tell it by watching him play. You have to watch the players in 10 games and then you´ll see it. It can happen that a player returns after an injury and it seems to you that he´s not fighting enough. You should know, what´s behind it. We have interviews in our job decriptions, but I talk mainly to players, about whom I´m convinced and whose description I have finished. I definitely don´t go to a player already in September, to tell him that I like his play. For starters, the coaches don´t like it and it could overmotivate the player. That´ why I talk to selected players in February at the earliet. It doesn´t mean that I avoid them. When I meet him, I greet him, but I don´t lead a prepared interview with him. Special interviews happen in Tornto during the draft combine and then during the draft or shortly before the draft.

How many games do you see a season?
200-250 games a seson.

When you go to a game, do you already have chosen players, whom you´re going to follow?
Of course. Ivan Hlink Memorial is a great opportunity to create a general overview. For example last year, I already followed players, that are draft eligible this year. I already knew them from last year. Then you create a rating and you go following these players. But you could say that until Christmas I have to see all the teams in my area (CZE, SVK, partly RUS, SUI and GER). Quantity plays a role there, to see as many players as possible. Starting from January I go to watch the concrete players.

But coincidence plays a big role anyway, doesn´t it?
Of course, it´s partly a lottery. Detroit usually chooses pretty late in the draft. Until the 10th-15th pick you have great possibilities, players drafted this high should usually play in the NHL. Players from 2nd, 3rd rpund then can get into the NHL, but just some of them. We chose Zetterberg in the 7th round. He was skillfull, but small. Then he grew, got stronger and above all was willing to work on himself. Before him we chose an other Swede in the 4th round- Jari Tolsa. He was also skillfull, but he was lacking the ability to work in himself. So he stayed in Sweden and nver got to the NHL. The development of a player can be influenced by an injury or because he falls in live and hockey isn´t in 1st place. There´s really a lot of factors that get into it.

What would you recommend to small boys, who want to play hockey and get to the NHL?
I´m saying this with a little bit of a hyperbole, but it seems to me that I can´t tell them anything else than emigrate. We fell asleep. Sláva Lehner is trying to change it now, but he´s starting from the top. That´s why we should start with the youngest kids. And until they grow up, it´s gonna take a while. I have 14 and 16 years olds myself and I can see whatś being done to them.
I think the problem is that here a team is coached, while in the world they´re coaching individuals. Already in přípravka you have boys who are talented from nature- someone is a goal scorer, someone is good on deffense, someone is a good passer, but we´re creating players who are basically the same from them. When I took my wife to see hockey 10 years ago to show me the 3 best players, she could tell who they were. Nowadays a professional has trouble to zell it. When more scouts meet at a game and we create a ranking of he best, w ethen find out that everyone has a different one.

What should be done about it?
Quote:
I think that until 13 the players should be practising the individual hockey skills- skating, the stick techniques, 1 on 1 maximally 2 on 1 situations. But that´s not the way it works here. When you come to a practice of 12 year boys, they are practicing like the men´s A team. They´re learning rotation, intersectiond while the boys can´t even pass properly yet and don´t have the stick techiniques to manage it. Then it´s said that they should work on their individual growth themselves. But where should take time for it? When they ahve 4-5 practices a week and game sduring the weekend there´s no time for it. Or the boys parents would have to take the boy from some practices and esnure it themselves, but that´s wrong as well. Hockey is a collective game, so this is not a solution.
I´m not saying the coaches are bad, they just coach the old way. Earlier the boys learned the stick techniques outside playing with a tennis ball. They did more sports at once. Nowadays when a kid is playing both hockey and football, the coaches are telling him to choose one. I understant that coaches want to have results, but that doesn´t meant they should sacrifice indivduality for the succes of the team.

What do you think about the CHL departures?
Here it´s said they shouldn´t be leaving, because they won´t break through there. But why? Because they´re lacking the quality. But when you take young Jaškin for example, he will break through here just as he would overseas. But those are exceptions. there are also other players, that can break through, but need a longer road, suitable conditions etc.

Interview with Róbert Švehla
Quote:
You set yourselves certain goals a year ago. How have you managed to achieve them so far?
The vision were clear, we wanted to improve the training process in all the yourh categories, especially at the pripravka levels (youngest kids). The practices of the prípravkaś are coached by 4-5 coaches in groups. Every group has around 8 players, through what we have managed to pay more individual attention to the kids. The main task is skating. When the kids come to the 4th-5th grade they already need to be skilled in skating. Then the focus on the exercises with the puck skill can come. This year we have bought goalie equipment for all goalies from prípravka up to the U18 team. We have bought training and game jerseys and hockey socks for all the kids from 5th to 9th grade, so I hope they will appreaciate it and represent the team as good as they can. Thanks to Mr. Kubis´ help we got 25 skater equipment and 5 goalie equipment sets for pripravka through the NHLPA´s nadation. 9th graders and the U18 team had the last week of summer practice in Uherské Hradiště, where they had great conditions. Most of these things were financed through CVŠ Skalica and I hope we will be able to use these resources in the next seasons as well. (You can read something about that CVČ thing here on the Slovak subofrum).

Are there things that have disappointed you last season?
I´m sorry about one thing. We have created, I believe, good conditions for the players, but I´m still missing a bigger drive in them. It´s just not possible for a player to tell me that he does everything for hockey in that he commes on time to the practice. That´s not all. He should dedicate time to sports after practise as well. Go jogging or swimming, play som football with his friends infront of the blocks of houses. here in Slovakia it´s a problem, especially with young children, that they´re not versatile. They should be doing other sports as well, that will enrich them and they will be more versatile. Even some parents can´t seem to understand them. Our kids at the youngets levels have 3 on ice practices a week, but they buy them even more practices. It´s hard to forbide them to do it. I think that the kids should rather be developing other sports activities like floorball, tennis, football or gymnastics as well. Thanks to that they will improve in hockey as well.

You have left to the SEL after winning the title in the Czechoslovak league in 1992, how did Elitserien help you with the transition to the NHL?
I could see it on myself in Swede. On the first day I was on the first line, on the 4th day I was on the 4th one and I had a fast awakening. I started to understand hockey a bit differently than I used to back here. It took 2-3 months until I got into what they wanted from me. I was an offensive D-man, but they explained to me that I need to be good deffensively first and that I would get PK time as well. Here, a player says give me big ice-time first and I will show you how I can play. But it doesn´t work like that. You have to earn it with your play. When I play good in one game, I will get more ice-time in the next one. All in all I got better in all individual skills in the Swedish league and when I left for Florida the difference wasn´t as big. There of course was a difference, but definitely not as big as if I was leaving from the Czechoslovak league.

Thre´s a weak concurence in the Slovak 6th-9th grade leagues. Teams play divided in three geographically divided groups- West, Central and East and there´s a lack of a confrontation between the top teams, it only commes in the 9th grade (in one tournament). What´s your proposal for these leagues?
I´m very disappointed with the system of these leagues. Players from 6th to 9th grade only play the West Slovak competition and there´s little tough games- only with Slovan, Skalica, Nitra or sometimes Topoľčany. Why don´t we play a Slovak wide league with the best against the best? We played against Czech teams one week ago and their players were stronger, faster, but I couldn´t recognize our boys. They had to adapt to the play of the opponent and they adapted well. The tourney has shown us that the boys are better, that they can play better than here in our league. Because the opponent made them. But our league will start and we will play against opponent where we´ll have 100SOG and win by 10 goals. What for? It costs money and time. I´d rather pay half as much money for travelling to Martin or Košice to play more even, better games. That will move us forward. In a compettive league, the pressure on the players would be bigger. This way there are few tough games ahead of them. But until the federation doesn´t change the structure of these leagues, we sadly won´t bring up better hockey players. And we´re not the only ones to think that. The money for travelling could be found somewhere- for example there could be less games played, but they would be better.

The weak concurence also reflects on international stage.
The Czechs, the Swedes are trying to do new things. And what are we doing? Nothing, we´re comforting ourselves that onc eina while a small success will come and we´re content with that. Itś necessary to analyze and improve it. The Swedes have had trouble in the youth ranks a few years ago, they changed their system, the state helped them with the finances and now they belong among the absolute elite in the world. The Czechs are trying to take the best from their system analyzises and to adapt it to their conditions. Maybe this could be our way as well- to open ourselves to the world.

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01-02-2011, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by slovakiasnextone View Post
[B]OK, here´s a translation, might be a little bit crappy, but you can get the general idea. Thanks to czechexpert for pointing it out. I thought that I might add an opinion a bit from the "other side" different from scouts, so I thought I´d post parts of an interview with Robert Švehla (chief of youth development or something of that sorts in Dukla Trenčín) that I originally translated over at IHF, because I think he makes some interesting points as well.

Interview with Vladimír Havlůj


Interview with Róbert Švehla
Thanks for translation and for very interesting interview with Robert Svehla. Maybe you should put both interview on Prospect board too.

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01-02-2011, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Czechexpert View Post
Thanks for translation and for very interesting interview with Robert Svehla. Maybe you should put both interview on Prospect board too.
You´re welcome Good idea about the prospects board.

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01-02-2011, 09:56 AM
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wow great work, I didn't expect somebody is willing to spend time with translating that - at least I wouldn't

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01-06-2011, 08:58 PM
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That was fantastic. Thank you so much!!!

I had all the dire news about the Czech hockey program, but glad to hear that they are working to turn things around. At some point however, the overall corruption of the state needs to be addressed. That's a bigger problem then just the state of our future hockey programs though.

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01-07-2011, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by jakzed View Post
That was fantastic. Thank you so much!!!

I had all the dire news about the Czech hockey program, but glad to hear that they are working to turn things around. At some point however, the overall corruption of the state needs to be addressed. That's a bigger problem then just the state of our future hockey programs though.
I think the big problem is lack of money. We just haven't enough money going to sport from government and that won't allow us to be the same effective as Swedes for example. Of course Lener and his people can improve many things and I hope they do. I think we can be better than we are right now and maybe have about 10-12 guys in the draft regularly (which would be great) if everything goes well in the future, but that lack of money won't allow much more. If I'm wrong somebody correct me!

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