Back in May, Colorado Avalanche netminder Pavel Francouz spoke with a journalist in his native Czech Republic. He talked about his journey to the NHL
Here is the translation of that interview:
He stayed longer on the ice, drops of sweat slowly dripping from his body. And as always, he was in a good mood and was answering willingly. Hockey goaltender Pavel Francouz who was supposed to battle with Pavel Bartosak for no. 1 position (on the Czech national team) spoke about how close he got to NHL last year.
Francouz left for Colorado last summer with the belief that he’d be playing in the minors. So when that has turned out to be the case, he wasn’t disappointed. In Bratislava, where he arrived from North America, he claimed: “I think I’ve made a big step towards settling down into NHL.”
You have played in two games so far (in the NHL). Could it have been more?
Of course, I had secretly hoped for more but I still think it was a good year. It has fulfilled its purpose. I’m not giving up and I will continue fighting for NHL.
What did the games in the minors (Loveland) give you?
I’ve showed that I can play on a small rink. There were also some doubts when it comes to my height, but I think it went well. In my situation it was better to go to the minors and play regularly than being with the Avalanche and playing only every tenth game. I don’t regret it.
What was you first NHL game like?
It was huge. Even though I didn’t start. But when you’re there and feel the atmosphere, see the players you only know from TV it is a great feeling. I’ve always dreamt about it.
Weren’t you sad when they’ve sent you back down?
Everyone wants to be up there (in the NHL) for as long as possible because everything, including service, is unbelievable there but I took it as it was. I had to go back to the AHL though. I had to bite the bullet and keep on fighting.
Colorado is specific for having three European goalies. How did you get along?
In the end the roles had been decided so there were no hard feelings. I spoke Russian with Varlamov which has helped our relationship. Grubauer is German and we got along fine as well.
In what shape did you arrive to the World Championship?
The best, I hope. It’s hard to estimate it since I haven’t played a game in two weeks. I’ve done a lot extra training in Colorado and I have to say I felt really good.
The goalie coach Zdenek Orct said that it will be Bartosak playing against Russia and he will leave it up to you... when will you come in?
It’s a logical step, I will not go against Russia as the jet lag will catch up with me for sure. It would have been an unnecessary risk. It’s good that we will have two off days afterwards, so I’ll have time for acclimatization and practice with guys. I have to to work off the lag with hard work.
Would you have come even if you weren’t guaranteed the No. 1 position?
I’m one of the three national team goalies. All three goalies and other players are here because we want to make this a success. I hope it will be the biggest success possible.
Did you watch the Championship before you got here?
I was checking scores, but I haven’t seen games themselves because I was travelling at that time. Of course, it’s awesome to beat such a strong Swedish team and outclass Norway. We’ve had a great start of the tournament.
Were there any issues with releasing you from Colorado?
Not at all. Of course, there was a last-minute wait until after the last playoff game of Colorado but then it went fast.
Have you changed your playing style in the US?
I was definitely working on it due to the smaller rink, I was trying to be more out of the crease. It’s true that securing angles works a bit differently there. But the main difference is in the presence of players in front of the net. That’s the hard work for a goalie. Not so much saving the puck it’s about seeing it in the first place and than catching it.
What did they tell you in Colorado in regards of the next season?
My future will be a matter of discussion and it’s up to my agent. I would really love to stay there and move to up the depth chart. But that’s just my wish and I can’t guess on how it is going to play out in the end.
**Editor’s note - Francouz signed a one year, one-way contract two weeks later.
Was it tempting coming to Bratislava and playing in an a home atmosphere?
Of course. It was one of the main factors. A month ago, my daughter was born, and I’ve only seen her for a few days. My wife and daughter can’t be over there, so it is a big part of it.