Before the season started, Michalek became a father for the first time. Then, in February, he got to play in the Winter Olympics for the first time, alongside his brother, for the Czech Republic. Now, he is preparing to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his NHL career.
|Zbynek Michalek |
Phoenix begins the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night vs. the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena.
“It’s been an amazing season, an amazing year for myself and the whole team,” Michalek said. “Finally, after all these years I’ve been here, the team is playing well and we are in the playoffs. So, it’s something to look forward to, and I’m real excited.”
In 72 games this season, Michalek tallied three goals and 14 assists for 17 points. He also had a plus/minus rating of plus-five.
In total, the native of the Czech Republic has spent six seasons in the NHL, five of those in Phoenix. In 415 regular-season games he has notched 27 goals and 88 assists for 115 points.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
doesn’t think Michalek’s lack of playoff experience will be a problem for the alternate captain.
“He’s one of those guys that just gives so much every night,” Doan said. “He’s been in big games and he’s done things… As an older guy you just have that youthful enthusiasm when the playoffs come around.”
And while Michalek’s name doesn’t show up every night in the scoring summary, Doan and his teammates know that he’s a valuable asset to the team.
“He doesn’t get a lot of recognition from outside of our locker room, but he gets a ton of it in here,” Doan said. “We all appreciate him so much. He led the league in blocked shots last year; he does all the little things well.”
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski also believes Michalek will not have any issue adjusting to playoff hockey.
“He’s a player that offers a lot of things,” Jovanovski said. “He’s a well-rounded defenseman, moves the puck well, he’s got a great shot, good in his own end and I think his biggest trademark is that he’s really good at blocking shots and helping on the penalty kill.”
He added, “He’s had a pretty eventful year with the addition to his family and had the opportunity to play in the Olympics. It’s a great moment, something he’ll cherish for a long time.”
But above all the hockey accolades and great memories from this season, family comes first for Michalek.
While representing the Czech Republic at the Olympics, Michalek had the opportunity to play alongside his brother Milan of the Ottawa Senators. And his fondest memory from the Olympics is the quality time the two shared in Vancouver.
“It was our dream to be on one team, and when it came true, especially at a tournament like the Olympics and in Canada, it was amazing to share the experience with him,” Michalek said. “We were roommates and we hung out together everyday… Our family was there and it was so much fun off the ice and on the ice, too. I hope we’ll get another chance sometime in the future to play together again.”
Michalek and his wife Helena made that much-cherished family a little bit bigger when they welcomed son Andreas to the mix last summer.
“I’m a proud dad and the little guy makes me happy,” Michalek said. “He makes me smile every single day, no matter what. When you come home and look at him smiling it just puts all the problems away. He’s a great baby and it’s a great experience to be a dad.”
While the regular season was fun and rewarding, Michalek says he and his teammates are focused on the postseason and the new challenges they face.
“It’s a big satisfaction,” Michalek said. “The hard work we’ve put in for a while is finally paying off and we are a good team, we showed it to a lot of people, even if no one believed in us, and that feels even better. We proved people wrong, but no one will take you seriously until you can do some damage in the playoffs, too.”