Roman Cervenka joined the KHL in 2010 to play alongside with Jaromir Jagr in Avangard. However, he never made it a secret it was just a temporary stop for him on his journey to the NHL. Here’s a translated interview with Cervenka from his early KHL days in 2010.
Maria Mikhalenko of Sports.Ru originally talked to Cervenka, while Jaromir Jagr volunteered to be the translator. Well, sort of…
Jaromir Jagr: Do you understand what Cervenka says? Let me be your translator. Roman can’t do a thing without me, he can’t even talk. Haven’t he told you? It’s a rule in our team.
Maria Mikhalenko: No, he hasn’t mentioned it.
JJ: I brought him to Omsk and I told his parent that he’s my responsibility. They asked me to take care of him. They also told me to keep an eye on the girls he speaks to.
Roman Cervenka: I’m not telling you anything until Jardo (Jagr’s nickname) is here.
JJ: Bring on the questions.
MM: Roman, would you describe yourself as a two-way forward?
RC: Actually, I have always played center. (Jagr adds…) But he was never lucky there.
Here in Russia centers are supposed to skate back and help their defensemen. We don’t do this in Czech Republic. I didn’t play defense over there. I like it better here because I play on the left wing and there’s no problem.
MM: As a center, are you fond of Pavel Datsyuk?
RC: Yes. This forward has it all – he’s a great skater and he’s got terrific hands. Datsyuk is a very smart player. I think he’s probably my favorite player.
MM: When Datsyuk was young, he wasn’t considered as a player with bright future ahead of him. Did you go through something similar?
RC: Yes. I think it was 5 years ago…(Jagr adds) He’s not like Datsyuk. Roman was always good. At least, he thought he was. His coaches thought otherwise.
MM: Could you name them?
JJ: If Roman tells you a name, you would know the person, anyway. That was one dumb coach back in Czech Republic, I’ll tell you that much! When Cervenka was younger, nobody believed in him.
RC: I wasn’t practicing too much back then. But I realized I had to work harder and I started to play better.
MM: Why did you start playing hockey in the first place?
RC: My parents got me into this. My dad and uncle both played hockey. My mom is a big hockey fan. My favorite memory from childhood is that I scored 9 goals in one game. (Jagr adds) Ha, it’s nothing. I scored 12 once.
MM: Roman, did the coach trust you the World Juniors back in 2005?
RC: Yes, I had a lot of ice-time. I was playing in a second-tier league in Czech Republic at that time. Alois Hadamczik, Team Czech Republic’s current coach, was the head-coach of the junior team then. We played a hard-fought bronze medal game against Team USA and we won. (Jagr adds) As if anybody’s interested that you won a bronze medal at the World Juniors 5 years ago. Roman has no fans. Nobody likes him. He’s a bad person. This is the way he was born.
MM: Roman, did you hear that?
JJ: He knows it’s true.
MM: Do you remember any Russian players from that tournament?
RC: Only Ovechkin and Malkin. These two were the best.
(Jagr adds…) You don’t look at one player specifically. You just sort of feel how he plays. You don’t even want to look at the guy but you understand who’s good and who’s not. However, Roman didn’t play all that much. He’s a bad player. He had time to look at all the players. I don’t even know when I played against who. Hockey players are different from girls. Girls are like this – they see a beautiful girl and they try to be just like here. Good players don’t do this. They don’t look at other good players. They are concerned only with themselves.
MM: Roman, you’re in the Top-30 list in the KHL in penalty minutes. Did the referees let you get away with stuff more often in Czech Republic?
RC: There’s no difference between officiating in Russia and Czech Republic. I don’t even feel like I get a lot of penalties here. It looks like it because once I got a major penalty.
MM: Did you hesitate a lot about going to Russia?
RC: I was only afraid of the local girls. I was told they all want to get married as soon as possible. Is this true?
MM: I don’t know. Personally, I don’t want to yet.
RC: I wasn’t afraid of moving to Russia. I was well-informed about the country. My good buddy Jakub Klepis has played here for a few seasons now. I knew where I was going.
MM: [Blues prospect] Jori Lehtera once mentioned that there are more beautiful girls in Russia than in Finland.
RC: It’s true. Czech girls and Russian girls are both Slavic. They are known for their beauty.
(Jagr adds…) When it comes to girls he’s all in for their character. Roman doesn’t care how his darling looks like, he cares about her personality. She may be ugly but if she has a beautiful personality, Roman melts right away. This is what he cares about the most. I don’t.
MM: Roman, Jardo has just said something remotely good about you for the first time.
RC: That’s because he didn’t lie for the first time.
MM: What had Jagr told you about the country before you came here?
JJ: I told him about you. But nothing good. Although, we may change our perception.
MM: First days in the league our usually the toughest for foreigners. Nobody talks to them.
RC: Honestly, sometimes it even helps. There’s no reason to open up in front of people you don’t know. This is the way it should be. I can’t really say anything about Russians, because I only know a few. But the ones I talk to are really nice people.
I didn’t expect so many hockey fans in Omsk. It was a surprise for me but a good one. I’m glad about it. I do my best so that the fans would be pleased with the way I play. Although, as of now they don’t know anything about me. Not even what kind of a hockey player I am.
MM: Why couldn’t you find such chemistry with Jagr at the recent Olympics?
RC: We almost had no time to work on our chemistry before the tournament. In Avangard we went through the pre-season camp together, we practiced a lot and it all paid off in the end.
MM: Some people say that you’d rather pass to Jagr than shoot.
RC: I don’t think it’s true. I just had to get used to the way Jagr plays.
MM: If it wasn’t for Jagr, you would have played for Avangard?
RC: In all likelihood, no. I had a dream as a kid and I still have it – I want to play in the NHL. When I was presented with an opportunity to play with Jagr, I embraced it. I don’t think I’m wasting time here. On the contrary, I’m gaining the necessary experience. However, I feel positive that one day I will play in the NHL.