Martin Lojek, selected 105th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2003, is a rookie with the ECHL Florida Everblades.
The 6’5, 220-pound defenseman is off to a good start, with four points in five games which ties him for the lead among team defensemen. This comes after sitting the first two games waiting to get into the lineup.
The Czech native scored his first professional goal on Nov. 11 against the Gwinnett Gladiators, matching his goal total for all of last year with the Brampton Battalion just in his fourth game. His penalty minute totals put him on pace to far surpass those from junior as well.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Lojek following the Everblades’ 3-1 loss to the Gladiators on Saturday night.
HF: How do you think your season is going so far?
ML: It’s going pretty well. I didn’t play the first couple of games, but then I started and I got good chances and it seems pretty good so far. Hopefully it’s going to continue the rest of the year.
HF: You scored your first goal last night, can you describe the play?
ML: Yeah, it was a power play, 5-on-3, and I had two shots before the goal. Then I had a third shot and I was just telling myself, ‘get in there.’ And it went in. It was a great pass by Steve Saviano. It was a one-timer and it just went in.
HF: You have a good slapshot, do you think it’s one of your best assets?
ML: Yeah, probably it is one of my best things. I can use it on the power play and even 5-on-5.
HF: Most people describe you as a stay at home defenseman, but with a good slapshot, that makes you somewhat of a two-way guy.
ML: Yeah, like you said, I’m more of a stay at home defenseman, but I can use it 5-on-5 too, and hopefully I can score a couple more goals (laughing).
HF: How has the transition been for you from junior to pro?
ML: It’s pretty hard. It’s a whole different league, everyone is older and stronger. It’s harder for me than the OHL, so it was a big change for me.
HF: How about the rule changes, it seems like you’re adapting pretty well to them.
ML: Yeah, it was pretty good, I think I have no problem with it. I got used to it in Czech when I played so it’s no problem for me.
HF: Which rule change is the most like the Czech leagues, the no red line?
ML: Yeah, the no red line.
HF: You seem to make good outlet passes, do you consciously think about trying to send a long bomb pass?
ML: Sometimes if I see somebody up there on the red line, beyond the defenseman, I try to make the pass so he can go on a breakaway.
HF: You’ve been playing with Chris Lee, how is that going?
ML: Oh he’s a great defenseman. I love to play with him. Hopefully coach can see that and leave us like that for the rest of the year because I love playing with him.
HF: Has he given you any advice?
ML: Yeah, he’s an older guy so he’s trying to help me on the ice, and off the ice too.
HF: This is the first road trip you guys have been on, what do you think of the bus?
ML: It’s a great bus. It’s a long trip and it sucks a little bit, but hopefully we can get back on the road and win a few games.
HF: Who is your roommate back in Florida?
ML: Steve Saviano and Paul Cabana. Those two guys are my roommates.
HF: How do you like the weather?
ML: Oh I love it! (beaming) I love it in Florida, it’s the best place on the East Coast. I just love it.
HF: Do you go to the beach a lot?
ML: Yeah, almost every day (laughing). After practice, whenever we have free time. I go with Martin Tuma. We’re always there.
HF: When the last hurricane went through, it postponed a couple of your games. Did you guys just stay inside?
ML: No, we didn’t stay. We went actually here to Gwinnett. Yeah, we drove up here, me and Martin Tuma. We drove up a couple days before it was supposed to hit. We stayed here for three days and then went back. So we weren’t there.
HF: What did you do when you were here?
ML: We just stayed at the hotel and hung out for a few days.
HF: You didn’t go sightseeing?
ML: No, nothing.
HF: Here are some questions from Florida Panthers fans. Which NHL player do you look at as an example of how to play?
ML: Probably Jiri Fischer from Detroit. He’s a Czech guy, he’s probably my favorite NHL player. He’s a good defenseman.
HF: Have you met him?
ML: No, not yet, but we have the same agent.
HF: What is it about him that you like?
ML: He’s a strong defenseman, he’s got a great first pass. He just makes simple plays and that’s what I like about him.
HF: Which current Panthers defenseman would you most like to partner with and why?
ML: Um…that’s a hard question (laughing). Probably…Mike Van Ryn. He seems like a good defenseman, so I would want to play with him. And he’s an older guy so he would probably help me on the ice too.
HF: You played at the WJC last year with Rostislav Olesz and Martin Tuma. Can you describe your experiences in winning the bronze medal?
ML: It was just a great experience for me, the highlight of my life. It was just a great thing to be there, being on the ice and off the ice too. It was a great experience, especially winning the bronze medal. It was a great game for the Czech Republic. It was a big thing.
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