Ivan Huml steps in

By Shane Walsh

Things were so translucent after the Bruins premature exit from the playoffs that sniper Billy Guerin was not seriously tendered an offer to wear Black and Gold for the 2002-03 season. With the failed attempts of signing notable free agents Tony Amonte and Teemu Selanne, the Bruins turned to relying from within. Who would be the one to step up and take charge to fill the scoring vacancy left by Guerin?

Kladno, Czech Republic native Ivan Huml has answered the call grabbing the bull by the horns with a great training camp and preseason. The 21-year-old Huml should be Czeching in so to say, as his previous AHL salary will elevate to NHL status. He has been nothing short of brilliant thus far and leads the way to full time duties above and beyond all Bruins prospects fighting for a spot on Causeway Street.

Huml has enjoyed a degree of success in the Bruins organization. He was the last player cut in 2000 after being drafted out of Langley, British Columbia in the BCHL. His efforts earned him a contract with the Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence and he emerged as a legit prospect walking into the 2001 training camp bigger and stronger from the year before. His stellar play in Providence caught the eye of Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek and Huml found himself on display against the Atlanta Thrashers during a call-up last season. He did not disappoint. He made a great play entering the zone, dished the puck to Jozef Stumpel who fed Billy Guerin for his 11th goal of the season.

Huml will not replace Guerin’s 41 goals as a Cub amongst Bears, but he will put his 6-2, 200 lbs. frame to work along the boards and in front of the net. The new NHL obstruction rules will have a huge impact on the type of season he will have. Like most Europeans, Huml isn’t considered a gritty forward. He will play the body and take a hit when necessary, but he’ll rely on his size, skating, and skill set to be a threat around the league for his peer group.

Huml and Stumpel’s chemistry has continued to thrive in preseason action thus far. In a goal scoring frenzy against the Penguins on October 1st, Huml netted a hat trick with Stumpel earning all the helpers. Despite previous criticism for taking low percentage shots and not making the most of his chances, he turned things around being 2 goals shy of lighting the lamp 30 times in 76 games with Providence last season.

If Ivan Huml can continue to build on the success he’s sustained so far in his early career, Bruins fans will remember the outcome from the Dmitri Khristich arbitration walk off. They will forever be thankful for the 59th selection they received from Toronto in the 2000 draft that brought Huml to Boston.