DETROIT – It’s been a whirlwind first week filled with congratulations for Andrej Nestrasil.
Last Thursday the rookie forward made his playing debut with the Red Wings. And that was followed up by his Svátek day back home.
Svátek is sort of a Hallmark holiday that everyone in the Czech Republic receives well wishes for prosperity and good health on their annual feast day. Kind of low-level birthday party, the feast day recognizes a different given name each day of the year in the central European country.
Nestrasil’s Svátek day falls each year on Oct. 11.
“It’s a Czech thing,” Nestrasil said. “There is a name on the calendar each day and whoever’s name is that day you send them wishes for good luck.”
Leading up to his debut last week, Nestrasil estimates he received more than a hundred text messages and calls from family and friends back home congratulating him on making it to the NHL.
“It’s settling down now,” he said. “I think the first game, the two days before the game, and after was crazy, especially with my phone.”
But just when he thought it was safe to pick up his cell phone again, it was Svátek for Andrej.
“When I actually thought I was going to have a day off from my phone, that day was my name, so everybody was texting me again to offer congrats,” Nestrasil said. “I woke up and I was like, ‘There will be no messages’ and I looked and I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”
Nestrasil will be in tonight’s lineup when the Red Wings host the Bruins for the second time in a week. For someone with little experience at this level, he sees perhaps a slight advantage to playing the Bruins again so quickly.
“Maybe with some little details, so I can know what to expect from their Ds when I’m down low,” he said. “I had a little trouble controlling the puck down low when they were really heavy and they were doing certain things which got into my head. Now I know that I can expect it tonight, so that might help a little bit.”
Nestrasil isn’t sure where he’ll be next week. A lot hinges on the health of center Pavel Datsyuk, still recovering from a separated right shoulder.
A guy who wasn’t given much of hope of making it to the league, Nestrasil is just happy to be here, even though that means living the hotel life for the last month.
“But I’ve been living like this for the last three years,” Nestrasil said. “I mean, I didn’t get permission to get my own place my first year in Grand Rapids, my second year in Grand Rapids. Actually, last year I had my own apartment in Grand Rapids, but the first two years I was just going from Toledo to Grand Rapid to Toledo and I was living out of my suitcase. And I’m just doing it again, but I’d do it for 20 years if I have to. I wouldn’t mind it.”