A Q&A with Andrej Nestrasil
Following the on-ice workout, Nestrasil fielded questions for DRW.com. Here is a transcript of that interview:
Question: Did you have any indication that the Wings were going to draft you? Did you have interviews with the team?
Nestrasil: “Yeah, I had one back in Prague because I didn’t go to combine to Toronto and once again in Montreal before the draft so I spoke with them. I was expecting it was going to be Detroit.”
Q: What’s it like being in the Red Wings’ locker room?
Nestrasil: “It’s like a dream. It was my dream to sit in this locker room and met the guys like Steve Yzerman and it’s amazing.”
Q: Which Red Wings’ player do you admire the most and which player do you think you game resembles the most?
Nestrasil: “Kind of my play is Johan Franzen. This is a guy, which I like from this team also. He’s big, strong on the puck, strong in the corners. He can make a play also. His game is something that I like.”
Q: What have you taken away from this camp so far?
Nestrasil: “It’s the first time on the ice this season so it’s something like education, like learn the team tactic. Detroit showed us how to work on the ice, how to work off ice, so it’s something like hockey school for young guys in Detroit.
Q: What did you guys learn about yesterday off the ice?
Nestrasil: We had just some workout for abs and back and lower carbs so every day it’s going to be a different part of body and it will show us how to workout and stuff like that.
Q: How hard was your transition from Czech Republic to Quebec?
Nestrasil: “For every single European guy, it’s hard to go to a different country, learn the language. Especially in Quebec it’s French and English so I’m working on my French also. My girlfriend is French so I have to. If you want to be hockey player, you have to do it. I knew in the Czech Republic that I can’t get better more so that’s why I made a decision and I came here.”
Q: What’s different about the North American style of play versus what you did back home?
Nestrasil: “It’s a more physical game. It’s a smaller rink. It’s good for me because I’m not that fast guy and I need to play more strong game. You can shoot from everywhere in offensive zone because offensive zone is like wider and bigger so that’s the biggest difference for power plays and PKs.”
Q: What was your impression of Detroit?
Nestrasil: “For sure, I knew it was the best team in the league. The good thing for me is that they work with young guys. The director is Jiri Fischer. He’s from Czech Republic like me so in that case it will be way easier for me. Everybody told me that, ‘Detroit, it’s not that good way. It’ll be too tough.’ But I think it’s the best way for me because I need to work, work, work because I’m not the guy who will play in NHL next season or in next three seasons so this is the best way for me.”
Q: How has Jiri Fischer, your fellow countryman, been? Helping you a lot?
Nestrasil: “For sure. We spoke right after the draft and at the dinner for team stuff. Here, when he saw me on the ice and do something wrong, he come up and tell me how to do it right. Especially during the season, we will make a plan on how to work and he will come to see me. We will go on the ice so I think it will be great.”
Q: How does Victoriaville compare to Prague, where you’re from? How hard of an adjustment was that?
Nestrasil: “It’s really a big difference because Prague is a really big city like 1.2 million people and Victoriaville is like 40,000. I went there because of hockey, not because of the city or something. In Czech Republic like my grandma lives in kind of the same city like 40,000 people also so it wasn’t like a big change for me and it was great. I have the best [billet] family. They help me so much. They have three kids. In the Czech Republic, I have four brothers so it was almost same. When I didn’t have a practice, I was with them. After I met my girlfriend, it was her. The people there help me so much so it wasn’t like a big difference.”
Q: When did you start playing and when did you decide that you wanted to be an NHL player?
Nestrasil: “I started playing hockey when I was three because I have an older brother and I started when he was five. I’m two years younger so I started with him. We played every single day at home. My father made a goalie and I was against my brother. The guy who won, the guy get the three cards of NHL players and the other guy was just one. I always lost because I was two years younger so I always had just one card. But since I started to play hockey, it was my dream.”
Q: What did you have to do after you were drafted that day?
Nestrasil: “After when they say your name, you go down and take the jersey, meet the team stuff, shake hands. After you go make some interviews, you go make a lot of pictures. After pictures with family, went to the suite to set up some development camp and plane tickets and stuff like that. After I had rest, at night we went with all of my family, my Victoriaville family with my girlfriend, we went to dinner with the team staff and drafted players.”
Q: What went through your head when you were drafted? Were you just really excited?
Nestrasil: “The people before told me, ‘Don’t go there. Maybe you won’t get drafted and maybe it will break you. Like you will be shaky afterward.’ But I’m not the kind of people who is shaky and scared of something. My Victoriaville family always told me like, ‘You should come, you should come’ almost every single day. So I decided two weeks before draft and it was one of the best memories I’ve ever had from hockey. A big experience and I met a lot of guys.”
Q: Are you looking forward to going to the Tigers’ game tonight?
Nestrasil: “Yeah, we will go. I’ve never been to a baseball game. I’ve never seen it on TV so it’s my first. I know what it is. I know the rules, but it’s not that popular back in Czech Republic and I don’t watch TV much. So it will be my first experience.”
Q: You had talked about Jiri Fischer earlier. What did you know about him before you talked to him and met him?
Nestrasil: “I knew him just from TV and hockey games. He’s from national hockey team. The problem with heart when he fell down on the bench. Just things from TV, I never met him before so just those things.”