2006 WJC: Q&A with Ladislav Scurko

By Glen Erickson

Ladislav Scurko has successfully made the transition from European hockey to the North American style, while adjusting well to the big-city surroundings in Seattle, Washington. Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the 6’1, 198-pound Scurko scored 17 goals and 42 points in 67 games during his first season with the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). During the playoffs, he led the team with five goals in 12 games. Scurko has 24 points in 32 games this season, leading the Thunderbirds.

The upbeat, 19-year-old power forward, who lists Marcel Hossa as his favorite NHL player, is a member of Team Slovakia at the 2006 World Junior Championships.

Scurko is skating on a five-man unit at the WJC with forwards Juraj Gracik (ATL) and Marek Horsky (free agent) and defensemen Vladmir Mihalik (TB) and Filip Simka (free agent). The left winger was held pointless in Slovakia’s first game of the tournament, a 7-4 victory over Latvia.

HF: You are playing on a line with Gracik and Horsky. Have you ever played with them before?

LS: Oh yes. We have played in the Under-18 World Championships together and at many training camps in Slovakia for national teams.

HF: What are your impressions of the WJC so far, including your training camp?

LS: I thought this was a very important game tonight. It is a big step for the next game against Russia, which we really have to be ready for. Everybody on our team is very excited to be here and we have been waiting all year for this chance. And we all want to keep going higher and higher in the tournament.

HF: How is your season going so far in Seattle?

LS: I had a very good start to the season and now my coaches are asking me to score more points. I think I got a pretty good number of points in the first half, but I have to continue to produce for my team after the World Junior tournament.

HF: How about those Seahawks?

LS: Well, I haven’t been to a game yet, maybe in the playoffs. They are exciting for Seattle and the city is very proud. That NFL football is just an unreal game.

HF: What lifestyle challenges have you overcome in moving to Seattle to play hockey?

LS: It was a very big deal for me. You know it is such a big country. My country is small, there are maybe 6,000 people [in my city] and there are four million people in Seattle. I have become more comfortable there now.

HF: How is the hockey different?

LS: It’s kind of different hockey in the WHL compared to my country and I had to change my style pretty quickly. The ice is smaller and I have to react quicker. It is more physical. My coach (Rob Sumner) is a good guy and he helped me with everything. It makes me just want to keep going to play well.

HF: Who are your linemates in Seattle?

LS: I’m playing with Aaron Gagnon (PHX) and Ryan Gibbons (free agent).

HF: Have you had any contact with the Philadelphia Flyers during the first half of the season?

LS: No, not yet this season. I expect we will talk during this tournament or early in the New Year. I am very excited about NHL training camp.

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