Patrik Mitas couldn’t sit still when the author of these lines – his armchair neighbor during the draft – informed him that the Montreal Canadiens were preparing to make Juraj Slafkovsky their very first choice, Thursday night, at the Bell Center. .
Mitas, a 27-year-old journalist, flew nine hours to follow this historic event for Slovakia. When he landed in Montreal, he set foot on North American soil for the first time.
Simon Nemec’s choice a few moments later only increased his ecstatic state tenfold. He gloated again when Filip Mesar was claimed by the Habs in 26th place. Three Slovaks in the first round.
Even though he had to quickly come to his senses to take on his role as a reporter, Mitas felt a lot of emotions. He first saw Slafkovsky play when the latter was only 15 years old.
“I was thrilled with him because he was already a big boy at that age, but he was still just a kid,” she says. He was an imperfect player, a little more individualistic. He was guilty of mistakes. Today he is more of a team player.
Shortly before the repechage, Mitas and Slafkovsky had the opportunity to have a chat.
“I spoke to him two days ago. He wasn’t nervous at all! He is a very strong person mentally. The only thing that bothered him a little was that everything had focused on him in the Slovak media. It was like, “Will Slafkovsky come out first? Where will he be chosen?” Non stop. He was a little tired of this circus.
Unfortunately, the Montreal market will not give the young man a break, who will have to get used to it soon. However, he seems well equipped for what awaits him. He learned very early in his life to be resilient and to stand up for himself.
“He didn’t play much in Slovakia when he was young. He left his family very early to play at the Red Bull hockey academy in Austria. Then he went to the Czech Republic and finally to Finland ”.
In Slafkovsky, many explorers see a sniper with the potential to score 30 or even 40 goals.
Mitas, on the other hand, emphasizes the multiple dimensions of the power forward game. Creating plenty of space for his teammates in the offensive zone, the big shot can also wear a passer hat.
“I think he could become even more of a passer-by than a scorer, emphasizes the reporter. He is able to make plays on ice that are not often seen. He makes good use of his frame to create openings. He has great hands, skates well and I think his sense of play is at a very high level.
In the Slovak media, the comparison with Jaromir Jagr is very popular for the size and skills in the protection of the puck.
“Several journalists in Slovakia have talked about it,” confirms Mitas, who comes from Zavar, a small village of just 2,300 souls near Bratislava. Jagr was also visiting Slovakia two or three months ago and said Slafkovsky reminded him of himself in his youth.
If we forget about hockey and focus strictly on Slafkovsky’s personality, Mitas observes similarities with David Pastrnak.
“Pastrnak is unique. He is funny and very good at interviews. People love it in North America. Like Slafkovsky, he is excellent with the fans.
And how. Even if they wanted Shane Wright, the Slovak was already starting to win their hearts by clapping his hands in the stands of the Bell Center.
“Maybe one day the fans will like me,” he candidly dropped in front of reporters, well aware of his preference for the Ontario prodigy in Montreal.
This day may come much sooner than you think.