CALGARY, AB -- When Czech pivot Roman Cervenka arrives at training camp this fall, he'll be greeted by a very familiar face.
His friend Jiri Hudler.
The Flames inked Hudler to a four-year deal on Monday, a move that caused some speculation that the team was bringing a Czech to help acclimatize Cervenka - the KHL star Calgary signed to an entry-level deal this spring - to the North American game.
"I have to laugh," General Manager Jay Feaster said. "The perception is that the front office is too full of Americans, and behind the bench now is too full of French Canadians, and now we’ll get accused that the top two lines have too many Czechs."
While Feaster made it clear that the team wasn't looking at bringing in a player they felt would be able to aid Cervenka, it is an added bonus for the team to have that connection. In fact, before Hudler was signed, the two had discussed Cervenka's jump to the NHL.
Just over a month ago, the pair were at Hudler's home in Prague watching the UEFA Champions League final. The topic of hockey came up and Cervenka looked to Hudler for some insight.
"He was asking me about the NHL," recalled Hudler. "He was really excited and he had some questions. Coincidence that we end up on the same team. (The NHL) is going to be a little tougher for him than usual, but he’s been around hockey for a long time.
"I'm going to be there for him."
Hudler has a lot of respect for Cervenka when it comes to his style of play and his unwavering determination. While nothing is set in stone, it's easy to see why Head Coach Bob Hartley may place the two on a line. When asked if he could see the two meshing well together, Hudler acknowledged the two had only played together a few times but was hopeful the two could find some chemistry this fall.
"He's really smart. He scores a lot of goals. He always did. We'll see - it's a tough question right now.
"We'll both play hard and we'll see."