STOCKHOLM – With the Nashville Predators eliminated from the playoffs, Martin Erat arrives just in time to help the Czech Republic in their quest for a medal. Erat’s recent playoff experience will be an important factor.
Emotionally there will be an adjustment for Erat as he was in a Stanley Cup playoff hockey mindset, attempting to take the Predators well into the playoffs and now with that dream unrealized, he’s in short-tournament mode trying to advance towards medal contention.
“It’s tough mentally getting ready to playing game five in Phoenix and then flying half the world away and then playing in the World Championship,” he said. “But that’s the hockey life and we have to get through it.”
So much emphasis had been placed on Nashville’s growth into a playoff contender. With an outstanding cast that includes Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne, so much was expected for a deep run into the playoffs, possibly conference finals and maybe Stanley Cup finals.
Even bringing Alexander Radulov back from the Kontinental Hockey League was not enough to bring Nashville beyond the second round of the playoffs where they lost the Phoenix Coyotes in five games.
Still, there is a very bright future for the team, provided they can resign Weber and Suter.
“We made the little steps and there is so much exciting in the city of Nashville that we hope things are going to get better and better,” said Erat.
It’s been a tough few days for Erat prior to arriving. He was coming off the tough series loss and then having to switch gears immediately and travel here to Stockholm without so much as a good night’s sleep then suit up and get ready to compete in the tournament. But he’s happy to have the chance to play for the Czech and is immediately getting used to things.
“I’ve played a lot of hockey but when its your country it is always something special,” he said of joining the team. “I don’t know how many World Championships I am going to play now that Nashville is getting better and better with the hope of going deeper in the playoffs the next three or four years. That’s why I decided to come and join the Czech national team.”
Erat has represented the Czechs at every level of international competition, starting with the U18 World Championship in 1999. Twice before he’s donned the Czech Republic national colours at the men’s senior World Championship, including 2006 when he won a silver medal.
With only one game remaining in the Preliminary Round, the Czech Republic is priming for playoff position.
“It’s a World Championship and it’s all about one game,” Erat offered. “If you made it through the quarter-final it is a two-day tournament and anything can happen.”