Kentucky’s Secret Weapon: Robert Jindrich

By Rich Herles

“He’s our secret weapon. He’s played outstanding. Robert always gives a second effort.
If he does get beat, you know he’s going to the net and he finds a way to get a glove or stick or something on the puck and I think that he is underrated. He’s a big part of why we are where we are today”, Head Coach Roy Sommer

Kentucky’s 23 year old defenseman played his hockey in his hometown, Plzen, in the Czech League and for Beroun, Czech in Division 1. In 1996 Robert played for the Czech World Junior team at the World Jr. Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Robert recalls, “It was a big challenge. This was the first big tournament for me, and the whole team, to represent our nation and show off our skills to impress the scouts. We won our group and then 8 or 9 players got the flu, including me. We lost the semi finals. It was bad luck.”

Jim Wiley, Director of Hockey Operations for Kentucky, said, “I think that Robert has had some opportunity to mature since his draft year of ’95. The Sharks’ have done a very, very good job in waiting until they felt it was the right time to get him over here. He’s played on top-notch teams in Czechoslovakia, which has given him a lot of years of good hockey experience.”

” When he came here, I think, that the first concern had nothing to do with the physical play (which there is less of in the european style of hockey) but it had to do with the different size of the rinks. Whether he can see the ice in shorter periods of time as opposed to the bigger rinks and having more time over in Europe. I think that he has done a tremendous job.”

“I think from an overall basis his biggest asset is that he can see the ice and that he can skate very well. He does play with a little chip on his shoulder; in other words he has some grit in his game. He makes nice passes breaking out of the zone and certainly what the Sharks’ see in him is he’s a fast, strong defensive player.”

Coach Sommer says the fact that Robert carries the puck out of the zone rather than dumping it in, “is probably the best part of his game. He finds the open man and very seldom does he make a bad coming out play. It’s usually a tape to tape pass and boom we’re off to the races. He’s probably our steadiest guy and is very seldom out of position. His biggest drawback is probably that he plays too defensively at times.”

The T-blades senior defenseman, Chris Armstrong, rates Kentucky’s defenseman as a very solid player who moves the puck well, has great skating ability, and good vision. “He’s going to be a good player for a long time.”

Robert sees his job as to play hard defense and hit the open man coming out of the zone. “That’s exactly what I try to do and play like each game is a playoff game. The most important thing is to defend our net, no matter what.”

“My goal for this year is to have a stable place in the lineup and to have the coaches trust me. I want to do what they want me to do and to play as many games as possible.”

If you come to Rupp Arena you will see many posters for fans. The Czech defenseman said, “It is very encouraging. I noticed ‘Robert Hraj Tvrde’. It says ‘Robert Play Tough’ and I like the fan support.”

Some other things that Robert has been enjoying since he’s been here are “country music, which I did not really like before. I have started to like to play golf which in Europe only the rich and snobs play. Just high society. So, it was a little different for me to find out that ordinary people like it here. When I go back home I will try to find some courses to play on, because we don’t have that many courses there. Also I am very impressed with the horses and the landscape. I don’t need towns with skyscrapers. This area is very much like my home.”

All in all, it appears that from the front office of the San Jose Sharks to his teammates, Robert Jindrich is one outstanding rookie who will without a doubt be making his mark in professional hockey for a long time to come

Remember Keep Your Stick On The Ice And Your Eye On Your Goal!!!

Bio: Robert Jindrich
Shoots: Left
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 195
Born: October 14th, 1976 Plzen, Czech Republic
Drafted: By San Jose in 1995 (7th round, 168 overall)

Rich Herles covers AHL Rookie Prospects for Hockey’s Future web site and Just Hockey magazine & web site
Contact him at [email protected]