Avalanche Interview: Radim Vrbata

By Billy Gilliam

HF: How is your relationship with fellow Avalanche draft pick Vaclav Nedorost, and is there a rivalry going with him to see who will become the better player?

RV: I have to say that me and Vaclav are very good friends. We were roommates in Russia at the WJC. We keep in touch a lot during a season over the internet and we are also planning to go on vacation in the summer together. I don’t think there is any rivalry between me and him at all. How I said we are good friends and we hope that we will play for Colorado Avalanche together one day.

HF: What was the best moment when you won the gold medal in the World Junior Championships?

RV: The whole tournament in Russia was a special time for me. Even the training camp in Czech before. We had a lots of fun as a team and I was very happy to be on that team. But the best moment was probably right after the final game against Finland. After the final buzzer we realized that we achieved something what we come for so it was a big relief and lot of happiness. So winning the gold medal for my country was probably the best moment in my hockey career.

HF: How will playing for the best team in the QMJHL prepare you for playing for the Stanley Cup contending Colorado Avalanche?

RV: Well, I hope that it will prepare me that good that I will be able to make a first team in couple of years. I know that it will be very hard because Colorado has a very good team and lots good players and prospects but I hope that being on the winning teams in juniors (Hull and Shawinigan) will help me to make the team.

HF: Your offensive numbers have gone up tremendously over last year. How do you think you have improved?

RV: Well, first thing is that this is my third year in the league so before the season I knew that I should have a very good year. Second thing is that I have been healthy whole season long. (I have to knock on the wood!) Last two seasons in Hull I had a big injury so I missed about 15 games each year. But when you look at the points per game I still think that I put up pretty good numbers my first two years also. And the third thing is that I am playing on one of the best teams in CHL and I have lots of good players to play with. So those are probably the main reasons for my success this season.

HF: You are tied for 2nd in the QMJHL in game winning goals with 11 in 55 games. Do you thrive on pressure?

RV: I guess so. How I said, this has been a very good season for me and the coaches has had confidence in me whole season long, so there were giving me ice time at the final minutes of the games and I guess I was lucky
enough to score those 11 winning goals.

HF: What are your expectations going into camp?

RV: The first thing for me right now is to sign a contract with Colorado. After this is done I will start thinking about next years training camp. I think that I had pretty good training camps my last two years. I got a lots of experience just by watching and playing with players such as Sakic, Forsberg or Hejduk and I know what to expect from the camp so I will try to play my best and try to impress the coaching staff to keep me with the team as long as possible.

HF: Your brother David has become a fine hockey player. What do you think about the possibility of the Avalanche drafting him in the future?

RV: Well, that would be great! That’s something we were joking about in the summer back home in Czech. He had a tough year in Calgary playing on “old experience” team and the injury forced him to finish the season earlier then he would love to finish but I know that he is a very good hockey player and I hope that he will have a breakthrough season next year and hopefully he will get drafted to NHL. Does not really matter by which team but if it would be Colorado that would be really awesome!

HF: What do you miss most about the Czech Republic?

RV: I miss lots of things. But the most probably my family a my friends. So I am always very happy to go home after the season and spend the summer with them.