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Havlat excited about Czech mates in New Jersey

Jul 2, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT

Martin Havlat Getty Images

Ignoring all the awesome Czech-related hockey puns out there, let’s just cut to the chase — Martin Havlat is excited to reunite with a number of his countrymen in New Jersey.

“I’m happy to be on a good team where I actually know a few guys. That should make it easier at the start,” Havlat told the Star-Ledger, one day after inking a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Devils. “One of the main reasons is the opportunity.

“And for sure a few of the Czech boys help. That was one of the reasons, too.”

Havlat, 33, will now be reunited with three teammates from the Czech contingent at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky and Patrick Elias. It means New Jersey is now home to four of the 34 Czechs that played at least one NHL game last year, which is a pretty significant amount.

It’s Havlat’s bond with Elias, though, that seemed to play the biggest role in signing with Jersey. From the Star-Ledger:

The connection with Elias is deepest. They live in nearby towns in Czech Republic (Brno and Trebic), vacation together and attend soccer matches and tennis tournaments. Their wives are also friends.

“The first time we played together was at the 2002 Olympics, but we didn’t actually play on the same line,” Havlat recalled. “After that we played in the World Cup in ’04 and had a great tournament together.. Then we played in the world championships on the same line and it was great. Then during the lockout we played 20 games for a team (Znojmo) back home here.

“We’ve always had great chemistry together. If I can say there are one or two players that I’ve actually had chemistry with during my whole career, that’s Patty. So I’m just hoping it’s going to work out well again. I don’t see a reason why not.”

Given how little New Jersey paid to acquire his services — $1.5 million is way down $5M he made annually on his last deal, though the buyout from San Jose played a role in the discount — Havlat could be a real boon signing for the Devils. Despite being hobbled by injury throughout most of the last two years, Havlat still managed to score 12 goals in 48 games in ’13-14 (works out to 20 over an 82-game season) and isn’t that far removed from his 2011-12 campaign, when he scored 27 points in 39 games for the Sharks.

  1. sgs32 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Good one, all they need now is a good czeching line

    • ngsm31 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      How long have you been waiting to use that one?

  2. mactruck27 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Would you say the Devils are a team filled with Praguematists now?

  3. patthehockeyfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Very good with the headline, Halford. Things may get a little sensitive around here, with Giroux grabbing assess and all. Havlat being excited about his mates? I’m laughing too hard, and I can’t think of a way to rephrase it.

    • patthehockeyfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      *asses

      Darn! Figured I’d screw it up.

  4. hockey412 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    NJD can finally scratch ‘aging, injury-ridden forward’ off their Czechlist.

    Just kidding – all of their forwards are aging.

    Just kidding again – not a bad deal for the Devils if he can stay on the ice. $1.5M isn’t risking the farm.

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Man I was really hoping injury issues would push this guy out of the day 1 free agent frenzy.. because he is a bargain. Sure, injuries have derailed him greatly but the skill is still there. Havlat (when healthy) is a 25-goal guy and I think the Devils got a steal.

    I was sincerely hoping that the Flyers would grab him and put him on the first line with G and fellow Czech Voracek. He would’ve fit perfectly… 6’2, LW, still with above average skill. Playing next to two all-star caliber players could’ve jump started his career. Very disappointed but New Jersey may have gotten a steal.

    Cmon Hexy time to pull off some magic.

  6. jacketsfan7 - Jul 2, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Czech mate! New Jersey wins lol

  7. lateralous - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Sounds good but knowing there is chemistry there, I’m sure DeBag will play Elias and Havlat on separate lines if he can even find minutes after running CBGB into the ground.

  8. nicofthenorthstar - Jul 3, 2014 at 3:37 AM

    Imagine that group in their prime.
    Now? Not so sure. Will be interesting to see what they can do (/if they can stay healthy).

  9. pj608 - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:59 AM

    Nj was what 2 or 3 points out of a playoff spot last year? make all the jokes you guys want but if you dont know look back to the mid 90’s where the Red Wings were the oldest team in the league with an average age around i think 33 years of age… they really only had Lidstrom that was young. Everyone else was old as dirt, And they swept the stanley cup series in 1996. I am a Devils Fan and trust me… I for one think they need younger players but the old guys can get it done to. Dont forget Havlat was on a team where he was miss used 90% of the time, Cammaleri had to carry a young Calgary team that had no defense, Jagr was misused in Boston. He hated it there…. As soon as he got there they wanted him to “Leak” out every bit of knowledge he had about the game where as NJ just wanted him to play. Ruutu iam not to keen on, think we took too much cap there, should of traded loktionov for a pick since he ended up being a bust anyways. Clowe is a solid player when he plays. Elias is still very under rated as he always was and still puts up a bunch of numbers. Ryder did pretty well last season. Wish there was more consistency but every player has droughts. All in all everyone under estimates the devils just like they always did and I think they will spin a few heads around this season once again.

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