Hockey coach Vladimír Růžička (pictured on September 20, 2022).
Prague – Coach Vladimír Růžička described the World Championships in Tampere and Riga, where the Czech hockey team was eliminated in the quarterfinals and took the final eighth place, as an overall failure. The latest defeat against the USA only underlined the embarrassed impression he has of the tournament, said ČTK. He did not understand the style of play or the approach of Kari Jalonen's coaching team towards goalkeepers.
“I have to say that I'm disappointed that there was nothing to bounce back from in the last two games. Against Canada it was 19-4 on shots in the first period, 11-2 today. It seems to me that the team was slowed down forward. We have players who are fast and instead of forechecking with two players, we go with one player at most,” said Růžička.
The coach, who led the national team to two gold medals at the World Cup, also noticed fluctuations in the team's activity. “When we lose, we start playing for two or three minutes and then we pull back,” said the former outstanding forward, who became a world champion as a player as well. “Today was not an easy match. When the Americans found out that we were waiting in the defensive zone, they started playing pucks from the blue line. They got them to the goal and sometimes it can slip. It didn't happen, but we got two goals after a goal,” he returned to the last match.
However, from the Czech point of view, the last three matches were unsuccessful in terms of gameplay and results. Not only against the USA, but before that against Switzerland and Canada. “When you go to the quarterfinals from fourth place, it's difficult. On the other hand, it doesn't matter if you go against the Americans, Swedes or Finns. You don't choose that,” said Růžička. He pointed to the composition of the American selection, which had an average age four years lower than the Czech one. “You can see that it's not about the names. Canada and America don't have them. The Finns won the championship with players from the domestic league. And we'll always wait for David Patrňák and Krejčí to come to save it, that's probably not possible,” he pointed out.
The Czech performances were marked by the injuries of Lukáš Sedlák and Filip Chytil, who did well in the beginning and should have been among the key players. “It definitely affected the team,” Růžička agreed. Regardless, he wasn't thrilled with the team's style of play. “Overall, I miss our aggressive, fast hockey a little bit. It seems to me that the players are always thinking about how they will stand in our defensive zone in front of the goal and we forget how we will play in attack. At the same time, we are dangerous there and we can do it. Everyone saw that It wasn't very good. We only had Canada and Switzerland from the big powers in the group and we finished fourth. If Russia was there, then we won't play in the quarterfinals? That's not good,” he said.
At the same time, the fifty-nine-year-old coach paused over the deployment of goalkeepers and the decision of the coaching staff not to appoint a number one. “Personally, I think it's not good for the boys either. When number one is designated, he catches. And when things don't go well, number two goes there. That's normal. Just like it happens in the World Cup, that number two becomes number one, ” said Růžička and praised the qualities of the trio Karel Vejmelka, Šimon Hrubec and Marek Langhamer. “We have three fantastic goalkeepers and it's not easy for them when someone else catches every match,” he pointed out.
Růžička led the national team as head coach at five world championships and always appointed the number 1 goalkeeper. “My opinion is that there must always be a goalkeeper in goal who will be comfortable. Whenever we have excellent goalkeepers, the championship will turn out well. And now we have had three,” he said. At the same time, he paused over the fact that Jalonen et al. even on the day of the match, they kept it a secret who would be catching. “It seems to me that we are kind of secretive. It's best when you have a number one, the opponent prepares for it and then he taps them,” smiled Růžička.