News on Hecht, Ustorf, Benda and the Oilers

By Oliver Janz





Personality:


Hecht signed for hometeam Adler Mannheim

Forward Jochen Hecht made a surpising announcement. He signed a one year contract with his former team in germany, Adler Mannheim. The DEL-champion held a press conference and you saw Hecht with his new jersey with the number 77. Why did he sign for Mannheim? The whole story: The 24 year old center became an restricted free agent after the season. He talked to his manager and his agent and they let him know the Blues will sign him to a new multi year contract. But, Hecht went back to germany to marry his girlfriend Christina in his hometown and no one talked to him till he received a message from his agent: The Blues traded him together with Jan Horacek and Marty Reasoner to Edmonton for Doug Weight and Michel Riesen. That shocked Hecht very much. “I know that this can happen, but i don’t like it!”

Jochen Hecht is still without a NHL-contract. So, remember Petr Nedved, he played in the czech republic to set the management under pressure. The only reason fot these movements is the money. One more time Hecht: “It’s a pleasure for me to play for the Oilers, a team Gretzky and Messier played for in the past. I want to play for them and i want to sign a good contract.” Hecht will play for Mannheim till October, the 7th. That’s the ‘realistic’ prognose from Mannheim’s General Manager Marcus Kuhl, but Hecht can leave the club everytime, which mean following content: If Hecht agreed terms with the Oilers on August, 5th for example it’s sure that he leave Mannheim as soon as possible to fly to Edmonton. If Hecht don’t agree on terms about a new deal till January 2001, he will play for Mannheim for the remainder of the season. The 24 years old forward skate currently in germany. He train in some camps and will join the Oilers’ camp – this should be the time for an agreement on a new contract.
Hechts hope he can join the Oilers for a good NHL-season. What time show the clock? Time for Kevin Lowe for contract negotiations with Hecht. We will see what happen, and the german fans will see Jochen Hecht.

Stefan Ustorf leave North America

His last team, the Cincinnati Cyclones joined the ECHL this week. The ECHL-level is not high enough for Ustorf and he saw no chance for a one-way-contract at the NHL-level. So, he decided to go back to germany. His last spell in germany for the Berlin Capitals wasn’t good, he had a good solid season but the media put him and the coach, his father, under too much pressure. Ustorf planned to stay in North America for some years and won’t go back to his native country. But the time changed, Mannheim signed him to a three year contract and Ustorf finally left north america.

Third german for the Oilers

After acquiring german born defender Sven Butenschön from Pittsburgh in the last season the Oilers trade starcenter Doug Weight for the second german, Jochen Hecht. And a surprising signing by the Oilers in this week: Forward Jan Benda, the third german. Hecht und Butenschön are still without a contract and are restricted free agents, while Benda signed a one year deal.

Jan Benda – full coverage

German’s most international hockey player

Jan Benda junior was born in Reet in 1972. Reet, a little town in Belgium, why there? His father, Jan Benda senior played hockey in Belgium at this time. The czech born defenseman played for the Brussles Tigers and was just 20 years old when his child was born. His son also enjoyed hockey and joined these sport very early. He make his first steps on the ice in the age of three. His father shared many time with his son and was a very good coach for him in his young age. Benda’s first team was a youth team from Belgium, the Antwerpen Phantoms. Because of his father’s job the family left Belgium and went to Germany as little Jan was 12 years old. Essen became his new hometown and the Düsseldorfer EG his new hometeam.

Jan Benda junior, born in Belgium, has a czech father, played hockey in germany, has also the german citizenship and want to play hockey in canada. The offensive defenseman has a big dream, the NHL. He will do anything to reach this level – the first thing is to play on a new position, as a center.

Going to Canada, going to ‘Big E’

Jan Benda left Germany to play junior hockey in north america. He joined Henry Carr, a team from the Ontario Provincial Junior ‘A’ Hockey League, which you can call the ‘farmleague’ of the major junior league OHL. As he recorded just three points in the first 18 games in canada, he signed for an other team, the Oshawa Legionaires. This season you can call his breakthrough season at the junior level. He recorded 50 goals and 80 assists in just 40 games for 130 scorer points! This excellent performance introduced him to the best junior team in Oshawa, the Generals who played in the OHL. One game, one assist and a contract for the new season. And a new teammate with a very big name: Eric Lindros. Both played for Oshawa till 1992, but didn’t appear in the same line. But the thing, that Eric was in his team, helped him in his development. Lindros also had a very good body and was a big player, not the small winger who skate quick. So, Benda learned some moves that you only can do if you are one of the big boys.

Other teammates in Oshawa were Goalie Fred Braithwaite, Goalie Mike Fountain and Forward Stephane Yelle. Yelle was Benda’s linemate in his last season there, too. The german played a solid part in the third line, but didn’t garner many time in the second line and in the special teams. In his first full season with Oshawa OHL-Team Benda recorded 15 points in the regualar season and six points in the Play-off’s. You can call this a very good season for him and the Generals, who reached the OHL-Finals, but they lost the series against the Greyhounds from Sault Ste. Marie. The next season make his scoring numbers higher as he grabbed 35 points in 61 regualar season games.

Back to Germany, back to the ‘little Czech Republic’

He went back to Germany after his junior career in canada and start his pro career in Freiburg. The team from the south of Germany had many czech players and players with czech ancestors in his team. Players like Richard Zemlicka, Jiri Smicek, Pavel Gross, Frantisek Prochazka, Martin Reichel, Eduard Uvira, Jiri Crha, Peter Gulda, Thomas Dolak senior and others. Good for Jan, who garner much ice-time and scored good numbers with 17 points during the regualar season. Many german teams wanted him for the new season. A german talent with a good scoring touch, a never quit attitude, also known as a teamworker and with a good physical game. The EC Hedos München signed him to a one year contract and his development went to the next level. He became a core player and scored 27 points in his second pro season. His five points in the ten play-off-games helped his team to reach the finals and they won the german championship.

Time to re-starting Globetrotting

As time goes by, the Boston Bruins would liked to see him at their evaluation camp and after his appearance there they assigned him to their farmteam in Binghamton. But after four scoreless games they sent him down to the ECHL where he spent the remainder of the season with the Richmond Renegades. His teammate was a goalie who is very good known in finland and germany where he played in the last season and also in the next season. His name is Duane Derksen, the new goalie of traditional german second league team EC Bad Tölz. Benda finished fifth in the scoring table with 60 points in 62 games during the regualar season. The current 23 year old center also scored 13 goals in 17 games in the Play-Off’s to help his team win the ECHL-Championship. The young forward had won two championships in three pro seasons.

Next spell, next country

As he didn’t get a new contract offer by an NHL-Team he went back to europe. Benda suffered an injury and spent the summer in his hometown Essen where his father coached the pro hockey team. Jan trained with this team and played his first two games after his injury for them in the second german league. He scored one goal in two appearances. The second league is even to low for him and you can name his spell in Essen a visit. His new team was quickly announced, Jan Benda signed for the czech extraleague team HC Slavia Praha. Why he signed for a czech team? Two reasons: First, he wanted to play in the home of his father, the Czech Republic. Second, the big reason, he want to watched by the NHL-Scouts who visits the Czech Republic more than Germany. Sharing his time between the first and the second line he recorded high numbers for his new team. An interesting note: Defender Jan Horacek, who was involved in the trade who send Doug Weight to the Blues and Jochen Hecht to the Oilers, maked his first pro steps in this season for Slavia Praha.

But why staying with Slavia? The czech capital had two good teams, the better one is Sparta Praha. So, they signed him for the next season. And, since that time, Benda always had an option in his contract to join the NHL if he receive an offer. A solid season alongside current NHL-Players Patrik Stefan, Robert Lang, David Vyborny and Jan Hlavac. 28 points in 49 games aren’t as high as for Slavia in the last season, but he didn’t get so many ice-time there. The simple reason, if a high class team have more good players – who are potential first liners in other teams – all players won’t get much ice-time.

His NHL-Dream come true

Jan also played one more game for Sparta in the 97-98 season, but only because of the early start of the czech league. The most of the pre-season he spent in the camp of the Washington Capitals. The current german national team coach, George Kingston, introduced him to Washington. Six clubs wanted to have him at their evaluation camp, but only because of Kingston’s contacts. So, Kingston saw the best and fair chance for Benda by the Capitals. And Benda take his chance and recorded three goals in the pre-season games. That good performance garnered him a one-year (two-way) contract. He started the season with Washington and played in nine games where he assisted on three goals. If you ask him about his first impressions, he answer “Wow, my biggest dream came true. And i won a fight!” But he lost his spot in the NHL-Team and the Caps assigned him to their farmteam, the Portland Pirates. The german center also played as a wing for the Pirates and finished third in the scoring table behind Andrew Brunette and Ryan Mulhern. Some NHL-Teams, including the Capitals, offered him a contract for the new season. But only a two-way-contract. And Benda don’t want to go back to the minors.

Playing around the World, arriving in Finland

“All contracts i will sign in the future, will include a NHL-option, but only for one-way-contracts.” And so he signed his first contract after the NHL-spell in another european country, finland. Hard discussed stuff for DEL-Team Mannheim. They wanted to sign him and announced it early. To early, as Benda was for 99% in Mannheim he descided to play for Ässät Pori in Finland. Why? Keep it simple, only because of the NHL-Scouts who visit Finland more than Germany. Ässät Pori was an average team who didn’t reach the Play-Off’s. Benda lead the scoring table with 43 points and take a look on the market to join a better team. The best team before/behind TPS Turku, the team from Jokerit Helsinki signed him. Teammates there: Petri Varis (former Blackhawk), Esa Tikkanen (former NHL-star) and canadian defender Sean Gagnon. A very good team, but not good enough to win the championship. They can’t win the final series against TPS Turku. But another very good season by Jan Benda. He scored 47 points in the regualar season and lead his team in scoring.

Photo: Jan Benda in the dress of Jokerit Helsinki

They signed him for one more season. And the story remain: In exactly 52 games for the third straight time he recorded over 40 points. Good, solid, not sensational, but he reached the next level after become a core player. He became a leader, with his experience he lead the young players not only at Helsinki – in the german national team, too. The german fans like his playing style, he is a sure member of the national team and the north american based hockey fans will see him at the olympic games in salt lake city.

The Player-type Jan Benda

You can describe him as an emotional player who bring spirit into the team and in the game. If you aren’t on the winning site after two periods, he will give 100 per cent and getting very emotional in those situations. His biggest agitiation? Benda’s one word answer: “…referees!” With his body, 6-3 and 215 pounds he has no fear for everyone, can play forechecking and had a good checking. A strength on Benda is his experience. He appeared in 98 national games, scoring 24 goals for Germany and played in two olympic tournaments. Also, he played for 16 (!) teams in six different countries in his whole career. His scoring numbers are good and solid, everytime the same performance. Benda is a core and sometimes a role player for his team who learned to lead. He did not speak the whole time on the ice, trash talk isn’t his way to play. The simple thing if you check him in front of the goal: “If you want some, come and get some.” He impressed with czech technic, german work ethic and international experience. A good choice for every european team. And possibly for some NHL-Teams, too. His only weakness will be his skating. He shows some good moves but isn’t very fast. So, he will loose many pucks? No, he can protect it with his body and his passing is not bad, too.

The Edmonton-Deal

Jan Benda’s 2000-2001 season for Jokerit came to an early end in the Play’off’s as they lost their series against Kärpät Oulu. Time to go to the german national team to prepare for the world championship in his home country. And many time for rumours about his person. Where will he play in the next season? The first decision: “I will leave finland after three seasons and a great time.” But, his new team is…? “If i went to Germany i will sign a longterm-contract to end this globetrotting.” The Eisbären Berlin and the Adler Mannheim are the candidates. And Mannheim had the best chance in the fifth (!) try to sign him. As the world championships starts he will announce his new team. And he did it. He signed a one year contract for russian team AK Bars Kazan. Now to russia? Yes, the russian teams sign some european star players and Benda become one of them. The payment was one of the biggest reason for Benda to join Kazan, he will receive US $ 400.000 in the next season.

That was official…till July, 15th, as the Jokerit officials announced that defender Kari Haakana and forward Jan Benda will join prospet Jani Rita. And Rita signed a multi year contract in Edmonton. So, Benda signed a one-year and one-way contract for teh Oilers. He will join their camp and we see what happened. A move by GM Kevin Lowe to add some depth to their roster and help young gun Jani Rita to develop in Edmonton.

Personality:

Name: Jan Benda junior

Jersey: changed

Center, shots left

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 215 lbs.

Born: 4/28/1972 in Reet, Belgium

Married, one daughter

Career Stats:

 

 

 

Regualar Season

Play-off’s

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

G.

G

A

PT.

PM

1988-89

Henry Carr Crusaders

OPJHL

18

0

3

3

22

 

 

 

 

 

1989-90

Oshawa Legionaires

OPJHL

44

50

80

130

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oshawa Generals

OHL

1

0

1

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

1990-91

Oshawa Generals

OHL

51

4

11

15

64

16

2

4

6

19

1991-92

Oshawa Generals

OHL

61

12

23

35

68

7

1

1

2

12

1992-93

EHC Freiburg

GER

41

6

11

17

49

9

3

3

6

12

1993-94

EC Hedos München

GER

43

16

11

27

67

10

3

2

5

21

1994-95

Binghamton Rangers

AHL

4

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richmond Renegades

ECHL

62

21

39

60

187

17

8

5

13

50

1995-96

ESC Essen

GER2

2

1

0

1

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

HC Slavia Praha

TCH

24

7

14

21

24

7

1

6

7

35

1996-97

HC Sparta Praha

TCH

49

7

21

28

61

10

1

1

2

12

1997-98

HC Sparta Praha

TCH

1

0

1

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Capitals

NHL

9

0

3

3

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland Pirates

AHL

62

25

29

54

90

8

0

7

7

6

1998-99

Ässät Pori

FIN

52

21

22

43

139

 

 

 

 

 

1999-00

Jokerit Helsinki

FIN

52

19

28

47

99

11

2

4

6

16

2000-01

Jokerit Helsinki

FIN

52

18

26

44

56

5

0

1

1

6

In german national teams:

Year

Competition

GP

G

A

PTS

PM

 

 

 

 

 

1994

Olympic Games

8

0

1

1

6

 

1994

A-WC

5

0

0

0

24

 

1996

A-WC

6

1

1

2

33

 

 

 

 

 

1996

World Cup

4

2

1

3

0

 

 

 

 

 

1997

W-WC

8

0

2

2

18

 

 

 

 

 

1998

Olympic Games

4

3

0

3

8

 

 

 

 

 

1999

B-WC

7

1

5

6

16

 

 

 

 

 

2001

Olympic Qualification

3

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

2001

A-WC

7

0

1

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

One-on-One:

Goes by…: Jando, Jana and Honzo (czech, for ‘Jan’)
Best player ever: Wayne Gretzky
Favourite Player: Not my favourite, but i like Jaromir Jagr very much.
Favourite NHL-Team: Montreal Canadiens
Best Staidum you played in (north america): Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
Hobbies: Playing Golf, spent time with my family, especially with my daughter
Favourite Music: from Jon Bon Jovi
Injuries in your career: broken arm and losing two tees
Hockey Player you don’t like: Many players…
Your goal: Reach the NHL.
What’s your goal after the hockey career: Hockeycoach, -manager or Player’s Agent

© Oliver Janz