Kermit the Frog sang “It’s not easy being green,” but Rebels goalie Patrik Bartosak, (that’s Bar-TOE- sack) is making it look like a lot of fun.
“When I found out I was sitting in the living room with my parents,” said Patrik. His Dad was watching the Internet for four that day, waiting to hear the news.
And when word got back to them that he’d be a Red Deer Rebel, Bartosak was ecstatic.
“When I found out I was drafted, I was so happy. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I was so excited, because playing hockey in Canada was my dream.”
Bartosak was drafted in the first round by the Red Deer Rebels in the European draft. And when it comes to being green, he knows all about that. He was picked up by a team he knew little about.
“One thing I knew was Nugent-Hopkins was going to be number one overall,” he said. That was all he heard of Red Deer. Don’t be upset Red Deerians, tell us what you know about Koprivnice?
Currently the tender for Koprivnice, Czech Republic is posting a .940 save percentage. This feat would have been tougher if it were not for the kindness of the Rebels organization. We’ve all heard the story of how he came to Canada without equipment.
“I came here and I didn’t have anything. But they helped me with everything. I needed everything and they gave me what I needed.”
In the Czech Republic, the equipment belongs to the team. Here, as you already know, each player has their own equipment. (Probably because hockey is expensive, and let’s face it, hockey isn’t the number one sport in every country.)
“Everybody loves hockey here. And that’s not so usual in Czech Republic. Czech national sport is probably soccer and hockey is in second or third place.”
Canada however, is a different beast. “When I came here, everybody was like ‘Good luck’. Good luck. I’m just not used to (it) but I like it.”
Fans were saying good luck, but you know they were concerned. How could they not be, Bartosak was tasked with replacing the Canadian Hockey League Goalie of the Year Darcy Kuemper. Those are big skates to fill and a lot of pressure.
But, cool as a Kofola (Czech equivalent of Coca-cola), Bartosak never really gave it any thought.
“I didn’t think about Darcy Kuemper. I know he played really well here and he won a CHL goaltender of the year. I came here and I just want to live my dream. I don’t think about pressure.
“I’ve been learning English since I was 10 years,” he added. “But it’s something different to speak in school and speaking with people here.
“The other thing that challenges Bartosak is getting used to players taking wild stabs at pucks. He admits that rebounds are a concern.
“Almost all goals in the Czech Republic are two on one, three on two. And goals that I let in here, someone is square in front of me and I didn’t see it. Or rebound goal. I wasn’t used to let(ting) in goals like that”
Like any goalie in junior hockey, the goal is to play in the NHL. Bartosak is no different. He wants it and has sacrificed time from his homeland in the Czech Republic to play in Red Deer, which is part of the dream. And along his journey, he is green. He’s fresh. He’s new. But he was also the CHL goalie of the week in his second week of playing in the WHL.
Back home, Bartosak was a great prospect for the CHL. He changed his scenery. Changed his language. Changed his team.
And Red Deer got the same results. A great prospect. Except this time, it could be for the NHL.