How Czech skater overcame 'hockey depression' at Sheffield Steelers

Martin Látal says signing for Sheffield Steelers has brought him a new lease of life.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 3:54 pm

He said he'd become depressed with ice hockey back in his Czech homeland and is now pleased he'd followed his father's advice to play abroad.

Látal has played the vast majority of his career in the Republic but was ready for new pastures.

"I was struggling last year, (he played at HC Litvinov) I didn't really like hockey; I was depressed - what am I going to do, where am I going to go?" he said.

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"I just stopped liking hockey, to be honest. The position in the team wasn't very good, I knew I wasn't going to be in the team next year."

He said he'd considered "giving up" but when Sheffield called, people told him it was going to be "the right place."

Now, he said: "I feel like I am a kid again."

Látal said his father had suggested he should have exported his skills from the Czech Republic for "many years."

"Back home my role in the team was always a third-liner, so I was playing defensive," he said, but he was now trying to up his offensive contribution, for Steelers.

"I am playing with great players...I hope I am going to score more goals and help the team to win."

Martin Látal at the Arena. Pic: Dean Woolley

Látal says he has to doff his hat to another lightning skater on his new side - Steelers' skipper Jonathan Phillips.

Fans have at Sheffield Arena have long enjoyed watching the pace of Phillips, at 39 one of the quickest players in the history of the EIHL.

But in players like Látal and Evan Mosey, they have new recruits who are also extremely nippy off the mark.

SHeffield Steelers skipper Jonathan Phillips: speed king

Látal , a joker in Steelers' pack, says he is "for sure" quicker than Mosey, but admits he enjoys watching Phillips' jet-heeled displays.

"I have to say for his age, he is in amazing shape.

"He can skate very well...I am very impressed by him. I watched him first time in the World Championships this year and I was impressed even then playing against teams with NHL players; keeping up with them."

Diplomatically, he added: "He is the captain, I respect him a lot, he is helping me, and he is nice to me so I am going to go with him as the fastest guy in the team!"

Látal has been touched by the warmth shown by Sheffield fans for the late Marek Troncinsky.

"I knew Marek very well. We played since we were 16 together. If we didn't play with each other we'd play against each other.

"I can call him a friend. It was tragic what happened and we miss him."

He admitted he was pleased Steelers had placed Troncinsky's name on the ice as in their mutual homeland tributes had been thin on the ground.

"It shows how the people here take care of their players," said the 33-year-old.