International Ice Hockey Federation

Q&A with Ruzicka

Q&A with Ruzicka

Host nation’s coach getting ready

Published 16.02.2015 15:06 GMT+1 | Author David Jahoda
Q&A with Ruzicka
Vladimir Ruzicka behind the bench of the Czech national team during the 2010 IIHF World Championship that ended with gold for his team. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images
Czech national coach Vladimir Ruzicka gets ready for the World Championship and can this year fully focus on the national team.

What kind of atmosphere do you expect during the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship when you will play on home ice in Prague?

The atmosphere will definitely be great. I think it was already visible at the December game with Sweden and recently against Russia when the fans really enjoyed the games. These fans will drive us. But we may not forget the defence as the game against Sweden showed us. Even though we scored four goals, we conceded six, and that is not acceptable, especially on home ice.

Playing the World Championship on home ice will certainly be a big motivation for the players. Do you think this could influence the decision of players so they will come even in case of minor injuries?

That's possible. It's a different situation when we're the home team, which is about once every 10 years. I think that it's important that players tell us if they get injured. We absolutely cannot start the tournament with an injured player on the team. At the end of a long season, players often have bruises and if any of them have injuries, we have to take that into serious consideration. It is useless to select a player who will only be able to play half of the tournament.

Before the recent World Junior Championship in Canada, the Czechs were hoping for a medal. It seemed, however, that the chemistry did not work as intended. What did you as a coach think about it?

That's the way it goes. You can pick a good team on paper but that alone doesn't win you hockey games. It's not only a problem at the U20 team, but also at the senior level. Sometimes there are whispers that this player or that player should have been chosen, but you need to form a team considering the style you want to play. You can't take 15 players just because they have the most points on their teams. You also need other types of players. That's what the coaches have to consider when the team is picked.

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So is it safe to assume that you and your staff will also be taking that into consideration when you pick your team for this year's World Championship?

I'm definitely going to take that into consideration. It doesn't necessarily mean that I have to choose the highest-ranked scorers. It may happen that if there are too many of these types of players on a team, it's not going to work. I want to wait and see how the whole situation develops. We all know how it was at last year's tournament. Some were tired, others injured. Therefore, it is possible that there will be faces which weren't even expected.

The situation, especially around the NHL players, is changing day to day before this type of tournament. Yet, do you have some ideas how many players from Europe and how many from North America you would like to have on your team?

I have some ideas. A few guys from the NHL will definitely be free and I want them to help us. But right now we are not able to say if it will be 50-50 or 60-40. What is certain, however, is that the team will have some veteran players, not just young ones. We need to be able to handle the pressure of playing at home. The guys who played the game in Prague against Sweden have already experienced why. We were leading but we lost the game.

For the first time you're experiencing a situation where you're only working as head coach of the national team but not simultaneously for a club team. Do you enjoy having more time for the national team? And how is it compared to the past?

I must say I'm very comfortable with it. Although it's a bit strange to say, I can rest a little from hockey, because my view on it is quite different. When I ended my playing career, I immediately stepped behind the bench of Slavia Prague, whether it was the senior team, U20 or U18. I coached a lot of games, and every day I was on the ice for extra practices. It filled all my time and, over the years, it wore me out a bit. It was over and over again – you finish the season in April and immediately start again in July, so you can start off-ice preparation with the team. Now I have a new situation and so far I really like it. I watch games, whether in person or on television. As a result I can go out of the country, which I wasn't able to do for long time, and watch NHL games. Although I have been in this new position for a relatively short period of time, I enjoy it a lot.

Do you have now even more time for your family?

I do. On the other hand, my children are already older, so I have time to help out in Chomutov. I agreed with Jarda Veverka (general manager in Chomutov), that I will help them out when I'm able. And I enjoy it. I go there two or three times a week, so I'm quite busy. This would be a better question for my wife (smiling), but I think I'm definitely at home more than I used to be.


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