Hlinka gets his chance and never looks back.

By Caitlin LoCascio
Portland Pirates’ fans have admired the workhorses. Inaugural season’s
Michel Picard (‘93-‘94) will forever be remembered by team supporters; Kevin
Kaminski (‘93-’95, ‘97-’98) will always be sorely missed; recently called
up Trent Whitfield played every game like it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup
Finals and that can never be forgotten. Now there is a newcomer, a 24 year
old from Slovakia who just wanted a chance to prove himself. All he asked
for was a try, and he blew everyone away.

Martin Hlinka has never been drafted. He was a last minute invitee to the
Washington Capitals training camp after he turned a few heads in the UHL.
He was the only invitee to be suited up at the season’s opening game with a
last-minute 25 game tryout with the Pirates. Well before those 25 games
were up the organization inked him to a deal, and no one has looked back

Hlinka will never be described as a flashy player, but he does it all and he
does it well. Basic skills, such as skating, are something not enough
players have down pack, or at least don’t utilize, but he makes it all
count. His work ethic is proving highly contagious, and the players on his
line are the better for it. He has racked up 26 points in the past 28 games
and has become a key part of the team’s power play, penalty killing, and
other special unit teams.

Being a newcomer with a hastily thrown together contract, Hlinka is
restricted to the AHL for at least the remainder of the season. Until then,
the Pirates’ fans continue to enjoy to watch him play, with a true love of
the game coming out every night. After this season, no one knows. But #41
will always be one to watch.