Czech 2003 Prospects: Martin Heinisch

By Robert Neuhauser

Having his father playing hockey is a big advantage for every kid who thinks of a succesful career in hockey. Every draft class has sons of former hockey players, for example Petr Taticek, Jakub Koreis and Jiri Hudler from the 2002 draft. Another in a row of draft prospects with hockey in their blood is Martin Heinisch, a forward from the Litvinov juniors.

A son of a former Czech Elite League player, Martin Heinisch was destined for a hockey career. He had the immediate hockey role model in his father Jiri Heinisch, whom he followed to the games and practices from the time he could walk. He liked the sport and spent a lot of time in the hockey arena in his native city Litvinov, Czech Republic. His father taught Martin how to skate and showed him the first letters of the hockey alphabet. When Heinisch was five years old, it was time to start a hockey career of his own. He was admitted to join the youngest grade team of Litvinov and from now on the Heinisch family had two of its members playing hockey.

Just like his father, Martin Heinisch wanted to play the forward position and score goals. The coaches saw his talent and made no mistakes in letting him play forward. Heinisch was happy there and soon added the necessary skill to his game. He was among the fastest learning kids and he still could get valuable tips from his father. Just like him, he prefers to wear the number 22 on his jersey.

When Heinisch was about to start playing for the 3rd grade of Litvinov, he had to leave his home and play even in a foreign country. His father signed a contract in Italy and the whole family moved there, too, with Martin Heinisch starting to perform for the 3rd grade team of the HC Agordo team. It was an useful experience for him, as a nine-year old kid he had to deal with the new language and different coaching methods. The year spent in Italy paid off in the end for Heinisch, who played on fire after his return to Litvinov.

He was by far the leading scorer of the Litvinov 4th grade team, averaging about four points per game. He also registered some impressive showings at the youth tournaments. At tournaments played in the Czech cities Hradec Kralove and Kladno Heinisch won the trophy for the Top Scorer, at a tournament in Brno he claimed the Top Goalscorer award, which was repeated at another tournament played in Sweden. This resulted into him being selected captain of the Litvinov 1985 borns team, a honor he maintained till he moved up to the midget category.

Martin Heinisch is a forward blessed with excellent size, at 6’3”, 195 lbs. the left-shooting Heinisch posesses a huge frame. He just
needs to learn how to use his body more, intensity and aggresivness isn’t sub-par but can still be improved. His skating is average, with mediocre acceleration. But
Heinisch has a solid upside to go along with his natural hockey talent. He sees the ice quite well and has a strong ability to find the open man. He handles the puck smoothly and is capable of making smart, accurate tape-to-tape passes. Martin has also
a decent wrist shot but his slapper still needs some improving. As a bonus there is Heinisch’s solid defensive awareness, which allows him to plays a solid two-way game.

At pee-wee age Martin Heinisch, nicknamed ‘Banan’ (means banana in Czech), already boasted a reputation of a very skilled player and belonged to the most talented players in his region. The Litvinov captain began to add a physical side to his game and rounded out his game more. The whole team was playing well and in the 9th grade under head coach Vaclav Cerny they enjoyed a succesful championship run. After winning the regional title the Litvinov 9th graders made the trip to the final tournament and won the whole event. At that time was Heinisch also preparing for the upcoming leap to the midget Extraleague.

He had a cup of coffee with the Litvinov midgets already in 1999-2000 as an underager. Litvinov midgets head coach Milan Kral was impressed with his play and promoted Heinisch to the midget team to see how he can compete against the more mature opposition. He did quite well, adjusting to the pace of the midget game without much trouble. In 12 games for the Litvinov midgets Heinisch registered 7 points for 4 goals and 3 assists to go along with a +/- of +3 and no PIMs.

Heinisch could benefit from this playing experience in the next season, where he saw full-time duty with the Litvinov midgets. He scored at a steady pace and was solid in his own end, helping his team to register a good season and claim the third place overall. Martin contributed to the bronze-medal success with 48 games played, 20 goals, 17 assists for a total of 37 points, a +/- of +34 and 34 PIMs.

The 2000-2001 season was also his first on the international stage. He left a solid impression at the selection tournament and the coaches Karel Najman and Jaroslav Beck have invited him to three tournaments, including the season’s high, the Four Nations Tournament played in Russia. This event was won by the Czech youngsters and this is the biggest success of the previous career of Martin Heinisch. Overall for the Czech Under-16 team he dressed out for nine games, in which he registered 4 points for 2 goals and 2 assists along with a +/- of +1 and 27 PIMs.

The 2001-2002 season was already the third of Martin Heinisch at the midget level. This was the final year of his midget Extraleague eligibility and he had his eyes sight on a debut at the junior level, but stayed for the whole team in the midget team. He averaged nearly one point per game and made clear that he has nothing to prove here. In 38 games he scored 35 points for 15 goals and 20 assists along with a +/- of +27 and 63 PIMs. He had to battle ankle problems during the season, which affected his showings a bit.

He was a regular with the Czech Under-17 team in 2001-2002. He missed only the World Hockey Challenge from the Under-17 team’s schedule and finished eighth on the Czech Under-17 team scoring with 14 games played, 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points, a +/- of -2 and 2 PIMs.

Martin Heinisch played the 2002-2003 season on the Litvinov junior team under head coach Josef Beranek, father of ex-NHL player of the same name. He spent the season with adjusting to the junior game and his game slightly improved as the season progressed. He created a solid duo with Zdenek Taus, the player he understands on the ice most. However, he put most of his points against the weaker opponents. This season wasn’t the best of Martin when he dressed out for 43 games in which he notched 15 points for 3 goals and 12 assists with an even +/- and 6 PIMs.

His international season didn’t consist of many showings, Heinisch made just two trips this season. He had an above-average showing at the Five Nations Tournament in Prievizda, Slovakia and appeared also at the Christmas meeting of the top Under-18 teams in Bern, Switzerland. After that he was invited to the Under-18 WJC camp, but was sent home after the first week and wasn’t invited to play at the Under-18 WJC.

A computer fan, Martin Heinisch is a student at a secondary school for computer science in Litvinov. School takes a lot of his free time, but he still finds a free while to play some other sports than hockey, with soccer, basketball and tennis being the leading ones. Martin is frequently resting between the games and practices by watching movies or listening to music, where ’60 seconds’ is his favorite movie and Limp Bizkit his favorite music group. Heinisch’s eating habits fit well with the needs of a young athlete, but the food he would choose for his dinner with most pleasure is still potato salad and steak, and Coke.
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks are his favorite NHL team, but that could soon change.

Ranked 86th among European skaters on the CSB final rankings, Heinisch has an outside chance to be picked in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Represented by agent Petr Svoboda, Martin’s plan for the next season is to come over to North America and try his luck in the CHL in order to boost his stock.