Saturday, January 2, 2010
I always root for players like Jan Hejda -- guys who aren't heralded, spent their early 20s plugging away in Europe, then take a shot at the NHL. Since the first wave of Eastern Europeans, the results aren't great -- Jiri Dopita was a bust, Petr Cajanek and Jaroslav Balastik had limited success. Jonas Gustavsson might have what it takes, and I think Hejda's done well.
He signed with the Oilers at a rough time -- about the same time Chris Pronger got traded to the Ducks -- and did nice work for them in a season that didn't go too well. Letting him walk after that year was one more mistake for an organization that's made a bunch in recent times. He's now a good piece on the Blue Jackets, a team that I always kinda half-assedly root for because they've been very Czech-friendly over the years, and because they chose a bug wearing a Civil War uniform as their mascot. They're not having a great time this year -- they're going through that "step back" that all promising teams do -- and they're kind of weak up the middle, but I think they're by-and-large headed in the right direction. I hope Hejda's still on the team when they get where they're going.
Another thing I like about Hejda: guy's a fantastic signer. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've gone to him; he's got a nice signature, he responds quickly, and he often includes a lot of extras (Russian cards and Oilers team issues).
I got this one through the Blue Jackets -- it took just over two weeks all told, not bad at all in the holiday season.