Petr Kanko-“no troubles, no problems”

By Ivana Paulova
One of the many talents of Czech hockey. He is not a very well known player but in his age group (16, born 2-7-1984) it is not unusual. He is a potential 2002 draft pick. He already made an impression in the highest Czech league when he played 2 matches and scored one goal in the colours of the Extraleague Champion Sparta Praha. This creative right winger steadily plays in the junior team of Sparta Praha even though his age enables him to play in one category lower.

He was born in Pribram, a town not far from Prague. He started with hockey at the age of 7 in Pribram and as tradition his father was the main force that made Petr play the game hockey. Petr in fact never had an ambition to play anything other than hockey. He likes to play football and tennis, but not very much. At the age of 10 he started to play for Sparta where he plays at present.

It is obvious that hockey means everything to him. He is 16 and he does not go to school anymore; he has decided to devote everything to hockey. All his attention is centred around hockey. There are no other areas that are as important to him as hockey. He has no other hobbies or interests. He does not go out to clubs or discos with friends. Why? Because it is not fun for him. These are just things that do not attract him. He likes to be with his family, sometimes watch TV (usually sport) and be with his team mates. His life may seem boring to others but not for him. He does what he likes the most. He concentrates only on hockey which is very beneficial for his future career. He cannot be disturbed by other factors and so he only spends his time training or playing hockey.

Pavel Bure is his favorite player and it is easy to spot similarities between the two. Petr is very offensively gifted- not overly physical but he finds no problem in coping with a hard physical game. When you see him play it is evident that he is full of energy which he uses to great effect in his speed- skating. His quick acceleration makes him a hard target for bodycheck. It helps him to gain few extra moments to think and read the ice and make intelligent play. He seems to expend very little of that energy but at the same time his movements look so powerful. His style of play is based on precise skating and great stick- handling abilities which give him into a scoring chance. His final shot is very accurate but not so hard, but he knows what kind of shot to use in certain situations. Essentially he prefers to handle the puck by himself rather than seek the assistance of others but he moves it well and it is a pleasure to watch him. As he is an offensive right wing, his game is clearly passionate and he strikes deep into his opponent’s territory and his forechecking causes a great deal of problems to all the teams. His mental and physical play develop as he grows in confidence. Having an instinctive advantage of good timing and body control he is able to pass through any defender but he says he has problems with defenders of the teams that are lower in the standings and who hook and hold their opponents. Petr is young and inconsistency in his performance is possible but he needs to maintain his impressive form that he has shown this season.

There seems to be nothing that Petr really dislikes or that he would have problems with. For him everything is ‘ok’. No problems with the team mates, all the coaches he ever had are fine and extra practice means no trouble to him. He is the player every coach would like to have on his team. He devotes everything to his team and to victory. He is not a typical leader but he is prepared to work for the team. He is more of an introverted type of player. He is good in the individual statistics as well as in team statistics where Sparta is currently 2. in the A group of the Czech junior league. He is also a very ambitious player. His demands on himself are extremely high. He plays regularly for the national junior teams. He started in Under-16, then he moved to the Under-17 team and is now a member of the Under-18. He hopes to do well in the junior league and train with the A team as well as keep up in the national junior teams. He was considering whether to try his chance in junior league in North America but he will probably stay in the Czech Republic until the 2002 draft. If nothing unpredictable happens, he has a big chance being drafted and according to the performance he will move up the draft ladder. He would like to play in NHL but he says that if he had a chance to play in Finland or Sweden he would rather play in the Czech Republic. If he continues with his smart and effective style of play he can soon increase the number of Czech players overseas. It is evident that he has great potential and should concentrate on improving his abilities.