Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Marc Siciliano on 08/01/11 at 02:15 PM ET
I wont be wasting anyone’s time bashing the on-again, off-again play of Jakub Voracek throughout his career. The Flyers have done a good job in recent years of getting players in situations where they have a lot to prove, and its worked out quite well for them. They find themselves in a similar position with Voracek, and there is ample reason to be optimistic about his upcoming season.
Voracek and Jagr were all smiles at the World Championships
One of the biggest reasons for optimism happens to be the most obvious: he’s not in Columbus anymore. He’s playing in a city where he can really showcase his talents while not having to be relied on as crucial building block to the organization like he was with the Blue Jackets (at least not yet, as indicative of his contract). He’s no longer touted as the show, just another important act in one of the hottest plays on ice.
Whether true or not, if you’re under the impression that Voracek is in it for the money, you can take comfort in the fact that he will be playing for his own financial benefit after signing a one-year deal this past month. If he wants to get paid, he’s going to have to earn it. He is beginning to reach the point in his career where he can no longer be paid on potential alone; success on the ice is becoming one of his only options. Ville Leino followed a similar path, outperforming his contract and earning big money from Buffalo, and Voracek has the talent to follow his footsteps to financial success if that is what he desires.
Want another reason for the young Czech to want to perform? How does playing with your childhood idol sound?
Voracek came up through the ranks in the HC Kladno hockey club, the same alma mater of the infamous-and-now-current Flyer Jaromir Jagr. He grew up idolizing Jagr, and had this to say in a recent article on NHL.com when discussing the topic:
“I was excited when I found out (June 23) that I was coming to Philadelphia… Now to have Jagr come to play here, too, is amazing. It almost doesn’t feel real right now.”
What about the notion of him underperforming last season? Even if his 50 points does leave some to be desired, it still directly replaces the production of Leino and firmly cements Voracek in the top-6 while leaving plenty of room for improvement. He becomes a big body on the wing that the Flyers have been starving for since losing Mike Knuble, but comes equipped with considerably more skill and precision.
Don’t fancy him to be a hard worker? Lets take a look at some of his scouting reports:
“A right winger who reads the game well and has a good shot. A very good and explosive skater. Likes to share the puck. Voracek is good defensively and has a good work ethic. Not very physical.”
“Voracek is an explosive skater, with dynamic offensive ability. He is extremely strong on the puck and has great vision. He has a very good shot, but prefers the role of a setting up his line mates. An outstanding puck distributor, Voracek sees the ice very well and passes the puck to an open man with an incredible speed and accuracy. Has a very strong defensive presence as well. Is very close to the full package, and has the work ethic and joy of the game to continue improving .”
Regardless of the reasons, the slate has been wiped clean for Voracek. Looking to take his game to the next level, the man many associate with questionable conditioning habits has already been working out for over a month in preparation of the upcoming season.
“I needed to work on everything. Have to get faster, have to get stronger, everything. I’m working on a lot of things right now and it’s going to be a hard summer. I have to get better at every part of my game.”
When you consider all the factors, you begin to paint the picture of what could be a big year for the young Czech amidst a blank canvas of expectations. He will get an opportunity to fight for both the cup and a contract while wearing the jersey of a team who regularly fills buildings beyond capacity. He also gets the chance to play alongside a childhood idol and get back to some of the more enjoyable aspects of hockey that made him so successful in the past. It will be up to Voracek to take advantage of the situation being presented to him.
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