With Tomas Hertl and David Krejci dropping out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey the Czech Republic had two forward roster spots to fill. The obvious choice would be Jiri Hudler, who arguably should have been on the roster from the start.
According to a report, it appears that Hudler was the team’s choice to fill in for the World Cup, but Hudler wasn’t interested after having been snubbed by the national team in the past. “Hudler didn’t answer phone calls and messages,” said Czech general manager Martin Rucinsky, according to Roman Jedlicka. “His agent Petr Svoboda then told us Jiri didn’t have interest to go.”
Hudler was not only snubbed from the World Cup roster but was left off the Czech roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he probably should have earned a spot over players like Jiří Novotný, who was a part of the team’s initial roster. Then, when Vladimir Sobotka had to drop out due to injury, they didn’t call on Hudler, but Martin Erat who was coming off a five-goal season split between the Predators and Capitals. During the 2013-14 season, Erat tallied just three goals and 26 assists in 70 games.
It’s hard to blame Hudler, because it’s baffling that he wasn’t a part of the roster to start with. Over the last three seasons he is the third-highest scoring Czech player in the NHL behind Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr. Adding insult to injury, Patrik Elias and Jagr won’t play in the tournament, so the roster was already thinner at forward than was maybe expected.
The only explanation for his regular absence on the national team is that someone in the management group for the national team isn’t a fan of Hudler or the way Hudler plays. It’s hard to blame him for not wanting to answer the call once they get desperate.
With Hudler declining, an already thin team is without Hudler, Jagr, Krejci, Hertl, Elias and Radko Gudas. The two roster vacancies will be filled by Roman Cervenka and Michal Birner.
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Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.