Czech 2005 prospects: Tomas Pospisil

By Robert Neuhauser
When hearing the name of the small Czech town Sumperk, hockey fans have immediately one
name on mind – Jiri Dopita. The hulking veteran forward, currently at the camp of the
Edmonton Oilers, is by far the most popular athlete to come out from Sumperk. But now there is
a very talented young prospect, who also calls Sumperk his hometown, and has solid chances
on a NHL career in the future. His name is Tomas Pospisil, a right winger of the Trinec midget
team.

When Tomas Pospisil was four years old, he thought for the first time about attending
regular practices of some kind of sport. As an active kid, he liked to be outside the house
and play every sport for fun. He enjoyed it a lot and his parents knew that doing some sport
will do him well. And because his father was playing hockey at the regional level in Sumperk,
the little Tomas didn’t want to do anything else but hockey. He had his inspiration in him,
so at the age of four Tomas already began to play organised hockey for the youngest team of
Sumperk.

His first coach, Zdenek Novak, was impressed with the eagerness for learning the hockey
alphabet the little kid showed every practice. Even if he was one of the youngest kids on
the rink, he competed well with the others and was learning at high intensity. His talent
for sports was visible and soon he began to present also elite hockey sense and vision.
His father helped him a lot in his beginnings and gave him lots of useful tips, which he
learned during his own career. Quite soon Tomas was able dominate games with his terrific
skill and smarts and had to see how to handle the leader’s role and take the responsibilities
on him.
The Sumperk 1987 born kids relied heavily upon Tomas Pospisil’s showings and he was
often the factor which brought them victories. At many youth tournaments he won various
trophies, like all the most talented kids, mostly for the Top foward or Top goalscorer.

But it wasn’t only hockey Tomas was doing actively during his childhood. After starting
attending hockey practices he also began to regularly play soccer for the developmental
team of the village he and his parents live in, Novy Malin. So besides hockey Tomas also
had soccer trainings and he used this to upgrade his conditioning aspects and also have fun
from another sport than hockey.

However, hockey was the priority and it was evident that Tomas has nothing to prove against
kids of his own age, so he was promoted to the older age cathegory. Among the Sumperk
1986 born kids he also met Radomir Cizek, who at this time performs for the Czech Under-17
team, and the Cizek-Pospisil duo soon was very feared among the opponent teams.

When Tomas was just seven years old, in 1994, one thing happened which influenced him a lot
in terms of his relationship with the NHL. For the first time he had the chance to watch a
Stanley Cup final series. The New York Rangers have claimed the Stanley Cup after seven tight
battles against the Vancouver Canucks and the little Tomas was cheering for the Rangers a lot.
The Rangers began to be his most favorite NHL team and they remained till now. He is a huge
Rangers fan and after the series he dumped the number 24 he wore the time before and began
to wear the number 11 on his back. Why? After the Rangers’ icon, Mark “Mess” Messier, who also
plays with number 11 on his jersey.

Almost for his entire career Tomas faced older opposition than him, mostly he skated for the
1986 borns, occasionally also for the Sumperk 1985s. When he was performing for the 5th
grade team, coach Alka started to work with Tomas a lot so that he could make the most from
his huge potential. Tomas was always willing to practice and learning new finesses, but needed
strength not to be pushed out of scoring chances by physically more mature players. Thanks
to soccer practices and various off-ice workouts he had great stamina, but now needed more
upper body strength. He handled this and still had his offensive instincts as an advantage.
After entering the Sumperk 7th grade team new head coach Petr Rutar honored him with the
captain’s role and Tomas Pospisil was wearing the ‘C’ for two more years.

And in the 1999-2000 season he became one of the youngest players to
ever play in the midget ranks in the Czech Republic. It wasn’t in the midget Extraleague,
his HC Holba draci Sumperk team was competing in the Div I midget league.
From the pee-wee age he was known as a rare talent, one of the best 1987 born players in the
whole Czech Republic. Even if Tomas was just 12 years old, coach Rutar felt that Tomas is
good enough and gave him a promotion to the midget team, where he served as a three-time
underage. But it was a whooping start and Tomas was definitely turning heads. In 4 games
for the Sumperk midgets in 1999-2000 Tomas notched 3 points for 3 assists, this being four
or five years younger that the opponents.

When looking at the play of Tomas Pospisil, you realize very soon what a smart player he is.
He uses his considerable smarts and offensive instincts to generate offense, mostly by
preparing quality chances for his teammates. Tomas can be lethal around the goal area and
has no trouble with putting the puck into the net thanks to his persistence and elusive moves,
but tends to pass the puck more than to shoot it. This enables him his terrific vision and
hockey sense. He posesses top-notch stickhandling skills and can maneuver through traffic
quite well. Tomas is a smooth puckhandler, but could use more polishing of his shooting
skills, his shots aren’t very hard. Another thing to work on for him is the defensive play,
which is only average at this time. Tomas is a solid, but unspectacular skater and for a
player of his current size 5’9”, 150 lbs. he should take some lessons here, especially
in agility and balance, Tomas has solid straightaway speed. But this with him being still
only two months from his 15th birthday, so expect lots of improvement in all areas and a
top prospect coming 2005.

Tomas Pospisil, nicknamed “Pospa” (from his surname, of course),
was a lock to skate with the Sumperk midgets the next season, 2000-2001. He was a twice
underage, but was getting a solid amount of playing time so his talent could shine. Besides
midget games Tomas also performed for the 9th grade team, but only in important games.
With the midget team Tomas spent 30 games, recording a very solid number of 20 points for
12 goals and 8 assists.

The Extraleague teams officials were aware of these achievments and they started a war for
Tomas. From now on the question wasn’t if Tomas will change the team, but where he’ll land.
Finally the prospect-stocked Trinec team added Pospisil to the lineup of the midget team,
where he was reunited with fellow Sumperk native Radomir Cizek. This meant the end of his
soccer career with Novy Malin, but it was necessary as Tomas needs to concentrate fully on
hockey. He was competing for one of the top midget teams in the whole country and was after
the 2006 eligible prodigy and current captain of the Czech Under-16 team Ondrej Fiala the
youngest player on the Trinec midgets in 2001-2002.

Head coach Radomir Kuzilek has found a spot on the third line for Tomas, who got used to his
new teammates in rapid time and made excellent plays when paired with Cizek and Ondrej Fiala.
Up to six players of the Czech junior national teams were performing for the Trinec midgets,
but Tomas maintained his spot and contributed all the way to the championship title the
Trinec midgets claimed after defeating Zlin in the finals. Finally in 53 games Tomas scored
33 points for 16 goals and 17 assists while also racking up 20 PIMs, this still while being
an underage player.

His hockey superstition remained also in Trinec. When Tomas is dressing into the hockey
gear, he always puts the equipment on from the left side first. And when he has a good game,
then before the next game he tries to do things in the exact order as before the good game.
Tomas’ international career had also its start in 2001-2002. Czech Under-16 team coaches
Vlastimil Koci and Jan Tlacil, who coached the team at that time, invited him for two
exhibition games against the Under-16 team of Slovakia. In those two games Tomas scored his
first international point, an assist, and earned 4 PIMs.
He used this experience well when showing up at the selection camp for the Under-16 team of
the 1987 borns. He was a lock to make the team and this August travelled to Humenne, Slovakia,
for the first tournament of the Under-16 teams in the season. The young Czechs met the Slovaks
three times, Tomas was skating on a line with teammate Ondrej Fiala and 1988 born underager
Jiri Tlusty from Kladno midgets. In the 3 games he recorded 3 points for 2 goals and 1 assist,
proving that he is one of the best players on the team.

No wonder that as a former active player, Tomas is a huge soccer fan. He watches a lot of
games on TV and still likes to play with his friends when he has a free while. Tomas doesn’t
do frequentely any other sport besides hockey and soccer. He also doesn’t have so much free
time to do so, after graduating from the elementary school in spring he started his first
year of studies at the business academy in Trinec in the previous month. His classmate is
also Under-18 team forward and Trinec juniors player Jan Blaton and the same school also
visits Under-17 team forward Jan Danecek. Tomas Pospisil likes to listen to hard rock music,
with groups Metallica and Blink 182 being the most favorite for him. He likes to listen to
them when he is resting, which occurs quite often. For his dinner he is most satisfied with
pommes frites with chicken meat and to drink a bottle of coke.
Even if he would love to play for the Rangers someday, his hockey role model comes from
the Colorado Avalanche. Also right-shooting forward Milan Hejduk is the player Tomas
Pospisil patterns his game after, he admires Hejduk’s skill and scoring prowess.

This season Tomas started on the Trinec midgets first line with some hopes of advancing
already to the junior team for at least a cup of coffee. He tends to stay in Europe more than
come over to the CHL, but this isn’t his final decision. However, he is definitely on the
way to a highly coveted 2005 prospect. Good luck!