Czech defenseman Vojtech Mozik has tough trip to Devils camp
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Defenseman Vojtech Mozik isn’t likely to forget his first day as a New Jersey Devil.
The 22-year-old Czech arrived a day late for a development camp because of a visa problem and a bag short because of an airline problem.
The problem was compounded because the missing bag had Mozik’s hockey equipment, forcing him to take the ice Tuesday with new skates, gloves and sticks.
Not only were they not broken in, he used them after three hours of sleep. His plane didn’t get in until the wee hours of the morning.
While Mozik didn’t feel he showed much in his session with fellow defenders, the Devils are hoping that the offensive-minded defenseman can make the jump to the NHL after three seasons in the Czech Republic’s top league.
“He wasn’t terrible,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “It was good of him to actually go on the ice.”
“He came in and was a good sport about it,” Hynes said. “We just at least wanted to get him out there and experience some of the skills stuff.”
Mozik was not impressed with his performance after what he termed “a crazy trip.” His flight from the Czech Republic to London was delayed an hour and he had to run through the airport to make his connection for a six-hour flight.
“It was really hard and I was terrible,” said Mozik, adding he hopes to have his equipment back for Wednesday's 3-on-3 drills.
Mozik has some skills. He scored a career-high 10 goals this past season, the most in the league by a defenseman. He also added 19 assists with Plzen in 51 games.
The performance drew interest from the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, but he opted to sign with New Jersey because he saw more opportunity with a team that is undergoing changes with a new front office and coaching staff after missing the playoffs three straight years.
“I will do my best and I think it will be good,” Mozik said. “I will play hard and we will see now. But I really want to play in the NHL and I will do everything for it and for the New Jersey Devils organization and I’m so really happy that New Jersey gave me the chance.”
Mozik also will have a couple of fellow Czechs on the Devils roster. Veteran center Patrik Elias has spoken with him and Mozik is in camp with Pavel Zacha, who New Jersey took with the No. 6 pick overall in the recent draft.
Zacha said he has seen Mozik play on television and called him a skilled offensive defenseman.
“I think I have a good shot, maybe a good skater. I think more offensive,” said Mozik, who compared himself to former Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
The Devils have a good young defense corps that features Andy Greene, Adam Larsson, Damon Severson, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and the recently signed John Moore.
NOTES: F Artur Gavrus, a sixth-round draft pick in 2012, is attending the camp. He has signed to play in Finland next season after playing the last two in the KHL in Russia. ...F Graham Black is at the camp but not playing because of a recent surgery for a hernia. ...Russian F Sergey Kalinin, who was signed in the offseason after playing in the KHL, describes himself as a tough player who likes to stay in front of the net. When asked if he is ready for the NHL, he said: “We’ll see. That’s why I am here.”