Morning ice skating of the Czech ice hockey team before the match of Group B of the World Championship against Slovenia, May 18, 2023, Riga. From left, goalkeeper Karel Vejmelka and general manager Martin Havlát.
Prague – Martin Havlát's first season as general manager of the hockey team ended in failure. In an interview with journalists, he admitted that it is difficult to look for positives in the elimination in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and the overall appearance at the tournament. He sees more of the cause from his point of view, but he didn't want to analyze them specifically.
Photogallery: Ice Hockey World Cup 2023
“It's definitely a failure and you can't find a lot of positive things in that result and how it all turned out in the end. The goal was to go through the quarterfinals and then fight on, but we didn't succeed. I think then it doesn't matter if you're fifth , or eighth. It will certainly be taken as a failure,” said Havlát.
He also returned to the unsuccessful quarterfinals. “With the Americans, we made three mistakes and after those three goals were scored. Otherwise, I think that we had more big chances than them, if we talk about the quarter-final in particular. However, the way we played, we didn't give ourselves the chance to win the match,” Havlát admitted.
He did not want to specify the reasons for the failure. “We are all behind that failure. We all made up the team. I think everyone did some analysis in their heads for themselves. I think there are more reasons for the failure, but I will keep them to myself,” said Havlát.
“We fell behind in some things, that's for sure. However, when two important centers like Sedlák and Chytil, who were supposed to be the driving force of the team, get injured, it's difficult. Others will get a chance to replace them, but not everyone it worked. And you can say that these two players were irreplaceable for us and our game,” added Havlát.
He also responded to the voice of the union boss Alois Hadamczik, who lacked combativeness, courage, and creativity in the team's performance and will. “I didn't see exactly what Mr. Hadamczik wrote. However, I think that the combativeness was definitely there and all the guys definitely gave their all. I would agree that we lacked creativity and skating,” Havlát admitted.
“But everyone has the right to express their opinion. Even a layman like Mr. Dědek,” Havlát recalled the statements of the Pardubice boss Petr Dědek, who called for the dismissal of coach Kari Jalonen shortly after losing the quarter-final. David Pastrňák, one of the best hockey players in the world, immediately defended this. “As far as I know, the players praise the cooperation with Karim. But of course Mr. Dędek can say what he wants.”
In the end, six reinforcements from the NHL helped the team, but one of them was Chytil, for whom the tournament ended immediately after an unfortunate injury. “My job is to contact the players that we are interested in according to the agreement with the coach. Not to call all thirty, forty, fifty guys who live in America. Regardless of where they play. Those we were interested in, I talked to throughout the year, during March it all intensifies with the approaching end of the regular season of the NHL,” Havlát said.
“Everyone who could – and who wanted – was with us at the championship. Of course we would they were happy if there were more of those guys from the NHL, we missed them. Last year there were about five more. But that was last year, it was a different situation. That's what makes the World Cup special – every year there can be different players, sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less. We worked with the players we had at our disposal,” noted the former outstanding forward with extensive experience in the world's best hockey league.
Learning lessons for the next World Cup in Prague and Ostrava according to him, there is still time. “Now it is still early after elimination. There is no point in talking about the next championship now,” said Havlát.