Czech NHL rookies – Pavel Kolarik

By Robert Neuhauser
It was a big surprise, the Bruins ninth round selection at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. After
taking Zdenek Kutlak in the eighth round the Bruins grabbed Kolarik with their first pick
in the ninth round at the 268th place, a 27-year old defenseman of HC Slavia Praha of the
Czech Extraleague. Born 10-24-1972 Pavel was drafted 9 years after his draft year, 1991.

That was awesome. Only Czech Extraleague fans knew that this 6’0”, 185 lbs. blueliner, who
never played for the National team, exists. It looked like he’ll spend the rest of his
career as an average Extraleague player, with hope to play some games in the National Team,
maybe. Harry Sinden drastically changed this vision of the future. The Bruins, who missed
the playoffs in 1999-2000, were looking for some players who could provide immediate help.
They took forward Sergei Zinoviev and defensemen Jarno Kultanen, Zdenek Kutlak and finally
Pavel Kolarik to fight for a spot in the Bruins team. Not even Pavel believed in such a big
turnover in his career…

Born in Vyskov, Czech Republic, Pavel Kolarik broke into the Extraleague in the 1996-1997
season with HC Slavia Praha. He acquired the jersey with the number 16 after Petr Macek,
a defenseman who left Slavia before the 1996-97 season and started playing. He appeared in
half of the regular season schedule games, playing 27 of 52 games. Pavel notched 3 points
(1 goal + 2 assists) and was a +3 along with 10 PIMs in his inaugural season. He was
scoreless during 3 playoff games, in which was Slavia swept 0:3 by the future champion
of Vsetin. But he could play with big names of the Czech hockey, just like Vladimir Ruzicka
(former Boston Bruin), Viktor Ujcik, Jaromir Latal or Milos Horava.

Before the 1997-98 campaign Pavel changed his jersey number to 89 and played all but one
game of the regular season. His numbers weren’t too impressive, only 4 assists in 51 games
and a -12 along with 24 PIMs, an average player. Pavel was scoreless in 5 playoff games again
and a -5 as Slavia lost 2:3 in the series against HC Zelezarny Trinec. That was Pavel’s last
appearance in the Czech playoffs. The following season Slavia was held out of the playoffs,
finishing 10th when only top 8 teams qualify for the playoffs. Pavel showed signs of improvment
as he doubled his offensive numbers. He scored 9 points (1 goal + 8 assists) in 51 games, only
Tomas Kucharcik and Vladimir Machulda played all 52 games. Pavel finished fifth in scoring
among Slavia defensmen, right behind Jan Krajicek, older brother of 2001 top prospect Lukas

Last season, 1999-2000 was the best for Pavel in his Extraleague career. He played
all 52 games and for the first time he scored more goals than assists, Pavel had 8 points
for 5 goals and 3 assists and the 5 goals tied him with Jan Novak for first among Slavia
Praha defensemen goal scoring. Pavel finished second among Slavia defensemen in PIMs with 38 and
+/- with a -3. David Pojkar, Lukas Filip and Jaroslav Filip were all even, but none of them
played more than 3 games. But Pavel’s effort didn’t help the team to a playoff berth, Slavia
finished 10th again. Pavel showed his typical skills, great skating, a fearless play along
the boards and in his own zone and was hard to beat in 1-on-1 situations. Not an offensive
rearguard but also not afraid of the rough stuff. His agent Petr Svoboda recommeneded Pavel
to Harry Sinden, who tried the gamble. So Pavel signed a two-way contract and crossed the
sea without any knowledge of English.

During the training camp Pavel impressed coach Pat
Burns with his style of play, the only problem was that Pavel didn’t understand what coach
Burns says. However Pavel started the season as a Bruin, but with a “P” instead of a “B” on
his chest. Jarno Kultanen took his spot and Pavel was demoted to Providence of the AHL. But
the coaches changed and Mike Keenan liked Pavel’s gritty play and gave him a chance.

So Pavel could play his second game against Czech idol Jaromir Jagr and Canadian idol Mario
Lemeiux. He wouldn’t believe this a year ago! That’s a story about sudden success, hope Pavel
can stick with the Bruins and score some points. Good luck!