ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Entering the season, expectations were high for Calgary Flames center Roman Cervenka.
He earned a reputation in Russia as a scorer, tallying 54 goals in two years in the KHL before signing with the Flames this offseason. The 27-year old Czech has struggled to translate that game to the National Hockey League, however, scoring two goals in 13 games this season.
Part of the issue is comfort.
Cervenka still struggles with language, understanding English enough when spoken to, but not comfortable enough to speak it. Communicating with teammates is difficult, except for with linemate and fellow Czech Jiri Hudler.
But Flames coach Bob Hartley said he isn't too concerned. He spoke with Cervenka following Tuesday's morning skate just to check in and make sure all the "wires are connected."
"It's always about encouragement," Hartley said. "We know the song; we've missed the playoffs for three years and it's not about beating up people. [That's not] going to get people to play better. We need to stay on the same page. Communication is, obviously, an issue. It was just a nice, friendly chat."
Hartley relayed a personal story about his experience last year in Zurich, trying to learn a new language and culture while trying to adjust to a new team and stay focused on hockey.
"My first few months in Zurich, I couldn't even order in a restaurant," Hartley said. "Once I would leave the rink, I was absolutely lost. To a certain point, it affects you."