Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Rise and Fall of Petr Nedved

This afternoon the Flyers announced that they have put Petr Nedved, Niko Dmitrakos and Nolan Baumgartner on waivers. Nedved and Dmitrakos will be sent down to the Phantoms if they clear waivers. The Flyers have called up Stefan Ruzicka, Alexandre Picard and Ben Eager from the AHL.

Nedved has had an interesting career to say the least. He defected from then Czechoslavakia (which was a communist country) at age 17 when he was playing in an International tournament in Calgary. He had all of $20 in his pocket and did not inform his parents of his decision. It is ironic that on a day where one potential superstar is starting his NHL career after "defecting" from Russia over the summer, the career of a guy who should have been a superstar may just be over.

The story is a familiar one - a player with all the potential in the world, drafted high (second overall in the 1990 draft - three picks ahead of Jagr) that just doesn't have the drive or motivation to fulfill that potential. He played for seven different teams (plus made second stops in both NYR and Philly) and each time I think the team acquiring him felt they were going to be the one to get him to take his game to the next level. Nedved has a lethal wrist shot and once put up 45 goals and 99 points in a year, playing with that dynamic Pens team that had Lemieux, Jagr, Francis, etc.

Other career highlights included:
* Winning a silver medal playing for Canada in the Olympics in 1994
* Marrying supermodel Veronika Vařeková (they separated this past summer)
* Being traded for Mike Keenan (his deal to the Rangers was part of a settlement arranged when Keenan left for St. Louis)
* Scoring the OT winner for Pittsburgh in the 5th longest playoff game of all time (at 79:15 of OT)

While there may well be another team who take a chance on Nedved (perhaps on re-entry waivers), the fact is that he has just 71 total points since the 03-04 season and there are players out there who can put up his numbers for less money, less headaches and less indifference in the defensive end. Nedved was not a complete bust, playing in 948 NHL games and putting up 308 goals, 705 points but he could have been much better. He SHOULD have been much better.

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