Last season Roman Cervenka topped the KHL in play-off scoring and was one win away from clinching the Gagarin Cup (league championship) with Avangard Omsk. Losing a player like this was understandably a serious issue for Avangard. However, thanks to the lockout, Siberian fans may see Cervenka lace them up for their team again.
But does he want to?
According to this video posted on HC Slavia Prague’s official website Cervenka "doesn’t want to play in Russia":
"Roman will start the season with Slavia. We already have an agreement with the team. If the lockout lasts for a long time, it is possible Roman will leave for the KHL. At this moment I’d rather not discuss it, though,’ told Hokej.Cz Cervenka’s agent Ales Volek. ‘Avangard Omsk owns his rights in the KHL and we have been in talks with the team’s management. We will keep it touch as the situation progresses."
It’s clear Cervenka isn’t planning on spending this entire season in Europe. Slavia in this sense is a perfect club for him. Prague’s famous franchise didn’t make it to the play-offs last season and was saved from relegation by finishing 2nd in the play-out tournament. Cervenka is easily going to be Slavia’s best player and there won’t be any hard feelings between the two if he has to leave for Calgary should the opportunity arise during the course of the season.
Avangard’s ambitions coming into this season are quite different. The team wants to build on its previous play-off run and finally get to hoist the cup. Cervenka would be a key player for Omsk and they are unlikely to let him go easily when the NHL lockout is finally over. Just how big a role Cervenka played in Avangard last season became clear this month: Omsk is currently struggling to score and is allowing goals in bundles. They lost their last game 5-0 to Ak Bars.
Avangard’s management wants Cervenka back and is being quite open about it too.
"I want to clarify the situation with Roman Cervenka," said Avangard GM Vladimir Kapulovsky at the team’s official website.
"He has some family issues to attend as he’s about to have a kid. We are fully aware that he’s going to play for his native team – Slavia Prague. Nevertheless, Avangard will soon be in Prague to play against Lev. We are planning to meet with Roman at this time and discuss his plans for future. Also, we have a few interesting players we want to sign on. I can’t tell you any names, but we’re working on it."
The 26-year old Cervenka spent two seasons in Omsk. Last year he played 54 regular season games, scored 23 goals and notched 16 assists for 39 points. He also scored 11 goals and had 10 assists for 21 points in 20 play-off games to lead the league. All in all, Cervenka played 137 KHL games, scored 70 goals and had 60 assists for 130 points.
This Wednesday Slavia plays against Kladno in Czech Extraliga. Ironically, Kladno recently signed Cervenka’s former linemate in Avangard, Jaromir Jagr, and they are both expected to play in this game.
As for Avangard, they face Lev this Thursday and are likely to make a move on Cervenka around this time. Quite a busy week Roman is having, eh?