OSTRAVA, Czechia - Love him when you have him.

Hate him when you don't.

That's the anthem, understandably, of those suiting up alongside Flames forward Martin Pospisil with Slovakia.

Because Pospisil is much more pleasurable when you're with him, not against him.

"I'm trying to buy him a dinner the day before the game and tell him to take it easy on me," said Martin Fehervary, a defenceman with the Washington Capitals who's doubling as teammates with Pospisil at the 2024 IIHF World Championship in Czechia.

"You don't want to play against those types of players. They know they're going to finish you, they're going to finish their checks, and they're going to get under your skin.

"You don't want to play against those types of players."

Players outside the Slovak hockey circle learned just that through Pospisil's 63-game freshman tour through the National Hockey League this season. The rambunctious winger annoyed defences, enough forwards, and likely a goalie or three over his rookie season in the show.

Eight goals. Twenty-four points. Over 100 minutes in penalties. One suspension.

Countless ires drawn from the visitors to the Scotiabank Saddledome, and those hosting the Calgary side on the road.

Tomas Tatar, who is captaining Pospisil and the Slovakia side, can attest.

"He's very intense on the ice," Tatar said. "I think that's something he'll have to learn how to control, but definitely there are moments in a game where the other team is probably thinking 'who is this guy?' It's very effective. He can get under a lot of guys skin.

"I was very proud of him, how he played in Calgary. It was a pleasure to watch. He's still young, too. I'm sure he's going to be better and better.

"It's exciting for us to have a player like him in the NHL."

In Europe, too.

Pospisil has helped be a tone-setter for Slovakia through the round-robin portion of the tournament, both with his physicality and his punch offensively.

He has a tournament-leading six points (2G, 4A) and six minutes in penalties in three affairs, netting a Player of the Game nod along the way.

Pospisil has caught attention yet again.

To say the least.

"I played just one game against him, but it's hard," said Simon Nemec, a rookie defenceman with the New Jersey Devils. "He's a really good player. He's skilled, but he's tough. He shows how tough he is. I'm really happy for him because one year ago he said he thought about retiring but now he's in the NHL and he's on the Slovak national team.

"It's good for him."

Fehervary has known all along. He was in from the jump when it comes to buying in on Pospisil.

They've known each other for a while, after all.

"I've played with him for a while now," Fehervary said. "We've played together since we were 14 or 15. We've played together on the National team. I think he's such a great hockey player.

"He was always the top player in our age group.

"He's the type of player you want on our team.

"He's really mean. He forechecks really hard."

Even Tatar, teammates with Vince Dunn with the Seattle Kraken, can agree.

It was Dunn, remember, on the receiving end of a Pospisil hit that yielded the Flames winger a three-game ban in early March.

Tatar couldn't have liked the play.

He can most definitely get behind the player, though.

"He plays well. I like his game a lot," Tatar said. "I was very surprised. I didn't know much about his game before he got to Calgary but when I played him I was really impressed with what he brought to the game.

"It's all good when you're doing it and not getting penalized for it. That's where you maximize it. If you look at maybe Brad Marchand, he's very good at it. That's maybe probably the ceiling.

"There is a line. It's a thin line. When you learn how to play on it it can be very effective. I'm sure a lot of guys are upset about the hits, but it can bring a lot of energy for your team."

"I'm sure teams are talking about him, to be aware. Once you start to draw a lot of penalties then teams will be talking about being aware and not letting him do it to you.

"That's the beauty of the game. You're trying to do the best for your team and I'm sure he's still learning.

"But he caught a lot of awareness around the league."