Hey everyone, welcome to my first diary entry here on canadiens.com.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my random thoughts during the season as much as I enjoy writing them down.
Looking back on the past three months, it was great at the beginning of the season when we were winning pretty much everything, but when you look at the reality, we played well but we kind of got lucky, too. We won all those one-goal games, pretty much at the end of the game, but now over the past few weeks that run came back to "get" us. I think the team is struggling a little bit right now but we still have a winning record and we just have to stay positive and take it one game at a time. It’s true that it’s tough when you’re struggling and of course it’s better when the team is winning, you’re doing well and everything is working well. Right now, it’s a little bit down in the room but we’re trying to stay positive and looking ahead to win games.
The injuries definitely are a part of the rough couple of weeks. When you’re missing your two leading scorers and then Markov for a three-game suspension, things obviously get a bit tough. A couple of other missing guys hurt, too - Komisarek was out, and Bonk is still out. When you have a strategy on the team, to suddenly lose pieces of your gameplan hurts you. But what can you do? You can’t just quit. You’ve got to play with the guys you have on the team and try to win games like that.
I definitely think Kovalev’s absence was noticeable on and off the ice. But at the same time, the team’s not about one player. Even though he is a big part of it, I think what hurt us too is when Sak went down, too, so we were missing two players from our top line and that made it kind of tough. I would say it hurt the team but it wasn’t only because these guys were out that we’re struggling. I don’t think that’s it. It’s not about one player.
No matter who we’ve had in the lineup, Ottawa has given us some great battles all year long so far. They have a great offensive team and that line of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley is something else. If you have the guys to stop them and do a good job of it in the game, then you should always have a chance to win that game. They’ve got a good defense and they’ve got Hasek in the net, and I think it’s a pretty good team but I wouldn’t say they’re unstoppable. Every team is beatable. It’s just a matter of being ready to play. If everybody has the will to win it, then I don’t think it should be a problem.
There are a few teams that have caught my eye. It’s not usually the teams packed with "stars" that I like. Take Calgary. I think they have a good team, a good bunch of young guys who work well. They have a goalie behind them and I think that’s an important thing, too. If the goalie’s playing great, usually the whole team is playing great, too. I would say that at this stage Calgary and Ottawa are the two teams I definitely like this year.
This will be my first time as a dad during the holidays, and I can tell you that being a father is awesome. I would never have expected it to be like this and it’s like nothing else I’ve experienced. It’s so much fun, you enjoy it so much. You’d always think being single is awesome, going out, going to parties. Seriously though, once the kid is born and you kind of see how he’s growing and how much fun it is, you don’t even miss the old days at all. I’ve got nothing bad to say - it’s been great.
We named our son Jan Jr. because even though we had three or four names in mind, we couldn’t decide. My wife came up with the idea and said, "Why doesn’t he take your name?" I said I thought that would be great, I would like that, so we went with that.
My wife Iva and I have been together since I was 20 or 21. Back then she would just fly back and forth to North America from the Czech Republic during the season. Since I’ve been 23, though, she’s stayed around for the whole year. Right now, I’ve been home for most of the time, so I can’t really say that it’s been tough adapting to the NHL schedule with a newborn. It’s not too bad being away for two or three days. At the end of the trip, I’m happy to go home and see my son and my wife again.
Since Jan Jr. is only eight months old, this year he’ll be getting pretty much only the things he needs for Christmas, not just toys and stuff, which he has plenty of. It’s tough, though. I’m sure my wife will have a hard time trying not to spoil him, even though he doesn’t really understand the holiday yet. We did the tree a while ago and it’s all dressed up nicely. He just looks at it, but doesn’t know what it’s about.
I’m not that young anymore, so it’s not like I’ll go looking for my presents under the Christmas tree and wondering what they’ll be. For the past four or five years, I pretty much tell my wife to get me something I can use. I usually tell her I don’t need any presents as long as the food is good. I appreciate good Czech food, Christmas food and all the things that go with it.
Back home in Europe, we do a gift exchange on Christmas Eve. That’s what I found different in the U.S. At home on the 24th we have the big dinner where you don’t even eat lunch that day. That way you’re hungry for the big fried fish - usually carp - some schnitzel, and potato salad. If you eat lunch, maybe you have a bit of soup and then you usually go for a walk outside for an hour or two. That’s how it was when I was younger and it’s also how my wife and I plan to do it with our son. Then you sit around the table at night, the whole family, and have a nice long dinner. Usually when you’re a kid, though, you’re eating everything quickly because you can’t wait for the presents.
Wherever you celebrate the holidays, I hope you and your family have a safe and happy time. I’ll catch you again in 2006!
Jan Bulis is a forward for the Montreal Canadiens. Diary transcribed by Heather Engel, site assistant for canadiens.com.