From Petr Svoboda to Tomáš Plekanec, the Canadian has long relied on an enviable Czech background. Svoboda and Roman Hamrlík even stayed in the Montreal area once they retired. This is without forgetting Jaromír Jágr, who did not hide his desire to play in Montreal at the end of his career.
We understand that the Czech colleague Zdenek Matejovsky has a nice face, but more seriously, what is the link that seems to unite the metropolis and the Czech Republic?
Radek Bonk had never really thought about the question, but he seems amused. “Jan Bulis was already there when I arrived. Tomáš Plekanec arrived as a rookie and he had quite a career, recalls Bonk, on the phone. I do not know what it is. But all players should one day evolve in these big markets. The NHL is great everywhere, but in these cities it’s even bigger. »
Bonk talks to us on the phone from his home in the Ottawa area, where he returned eight years ago. We will hear his surname more and more in the coming years, since his son Oliver should be drafted quite early this year.
18-year-old defenseman, teammate of Logan Mailloux with the London Knights, Oliver Bonk is ranked 20th by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters.
Radek Bonk knew Montreal for two seasons, from 2005 to 2007. But it was in Ottawa that he was most outstanding, he who spent more than two thirds of his career there. A career that did not take the turn expected for a player drafted 3rd in 1994. He never exceeded the mark of 25 goals or 70 points in a season. But at his peak, he still played 18 minutes a game and was a trusted man of Jacques Martin, then Senators head coach.
“For me, I was an average skater. One day, Jacques Martin said to me: “You are strong, I think you can become a good defensive forward to counter the best opposing lines.” I accepted this role. Playing against Jaromír Jágr is also a good role, because if he plays 25 minutes, you will play 20! Once I accepted this change, I still collected points. »
Even if his son is a defender, Radek Bonk was able to pass on knowledge to him.
“I don’t remember him when he was playing, admits Oliver Bonk, met at the NHL evaluation camp in Buffalo two weeks ago. But I know he was a good forward on 200 feet, good on the penalty kill. I think a lot of my hockey IQ comes from him. He showed me what strikers don’t like, how to give them a hard time, because he was a striker himself. »
Can intelligence on the ice be learned? “It helps when you start young,” the young man believes. You can’t start learning it at 18, 19, it’s too late. »
Radek Bonk was involved in most of son’s teams until he arrived in London.
“Their plan was for him to play junior B the first year, details Radek Bonk. The organization always does this. Oliver could have played in London at 16, but he would have been employed as part of the third pair and wouldn’t have had much playing time. The Knights believe all of their defensemen should be playing Junior B at 30 minutes per game. Several OHL teams were telling us that they were going to allow Oliver to play from the start. Obviously, the Knights’ approach worked! »
A selection somewhere late in the 1st round or early in the 2nd round is possible, and with the 31st and 37th picks, the Habs have two speaking rights in this portion of the draft.
“That would be a great place,” notes young Bonk. My dad always told me that’s where the fans are the most passionate.
“But I loved Erik Karlsson when I was a young Senators fan. Montreal would be special, but Ottawa would be even more so. This is where I grew up. »