Michael Kolarz: A more distant future of hockey

By Robert Neuhauser
Michael Kolarz was born in the Czech city of Havirov, a city near Ostrava, where hockey is
represented by the Vitkovice team. But he didn’t think of a hockey career since the very
beginning of his life. Michael was born in a family of a soccer player and no wonder that
his dad brought him to the game of soccer as soon as the little Michael could walk. He bought
him a ball, but also didn’t forget the most popular Czech sport – hockey. Michael stood at
his skates for the first time when he was three. He liked the sport and no wonder that he
began to attend the practices of the local team’s smallest kids cathegory. Besides soccer,
of course.

There in Havirov his first coach was the respected expert Jan Danecek. Danecek is now an
assistant coach for the Trinec midgets and his son Jan is the youngest player ever to play
in the senior Extraleague. Coach Danecek gave Michael the first tips and taught him the
basics of hockey. As a tall kid, Michael was sent to the defenseman position soon and he
had no trouble there. He seemed to like the blueliner’s role and he soon began to make
use of his talent and dominate the play. The forwards had a very tough time against Michael,
who soon began to play with older kids. He was born with a great ability to read the plays
and a nice hockey sense. He is very mobile, thanks also to the soccer practices.

As Michael grew in age, Extraleague teams, looking for a boost in their pipeline of youngest
kids’ prospects, began to be interested in Michael. The most logical way for him was a
transition to the Vitkovice team. So for the 6th grade kids Michael already played for
Vitkovice. At this time was in Havirov already an Extraleague team established, but Michael
wanted to have a chance to play in the system of the famed Vitkovice team, a team with
a long tradition which has produced lots of quality prospects.
In Vitkovice he started to play under Milos Holan, a former NHL defenseman, who had to leave
the Anaheim Mighty Ducks due to cancer and couldn’t return. Holan soon recognized Kolarz’s
talent and his smart two-way game brought him lots of ice time.

Even if Kolarz’s biggest role models in hockey are New Jersey Devils’ captain Scott Stevens
and Atlanta Thrashers’ Jiri Slegr, he doesn’t deliver hits in the caliber of Stevens.
Michael is a good skater who takes pride in his positional play. He has a good decision
making and can support the offense well. But he is not a pure offensive defenseman, he
takes care of his own end first and after his defensive duties are gone, then he joins
the rush. With his very good passing skills he is very useful at powerplay units, but has
to improve his shooting skills. His shot needs to be more hard and accurate and he could
show more of his nasty edge. Adding more toughness to his play will make him only better.
So those skills enabled him to cope well with the more mature play of the older opposition.
No wonder that he was selected a member of the Czech team, which participated at the
International pee-wee tournament in Quebec City. He didn’t go there for Vitkovice, the team
for the Quebec City tournament
was an unofficial Czech national team of the 1987 born under the name of the Chomutov
team. Besides Kolarz on the team also were defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jakub Vojta, both
of them now playing for the Under-16 team as underagers. But Kolarz, a Detroit Red Wings
and Pittsburgh Penguins fan, was selected captain.

That was his biggest international experience till this season. Last season Michael played
regularly for the 8th grade kids of Vitkovice, but in the summer he practiced already
with the midget team. Midget team coach Kuridym selected him, because he was too good to
play for the 9th grade team and had the tools to succeed in the midget Extraleague. So
last summer Michael saw that he can make a bright career in hockey and stopped attending
soccer practices to concentrate only on the hockey career. Midget Extraleague teams practice
six times a week and it is almost unable to enjoy a succesfull soccer career besides hockey.
But Michael’s stellar play didn’t remain hidden to the coaches of the new Czech Under-16
team. Even if one year younger, he got invited to the selection camp and eventually, he
made the team.

So he could wear for the first time the jersey of a Czech junior national team. It happened
in a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Slovakia and Michael along with
his longtime defensive partner from Vitkovice, Michal Gulasi, left a good impression.
For a player who just turns 15 this week, Michael Kolarz is a very good, mature, two-way
defenseman. Watch out for this guy in the future!