Sheffield Steelers keep tabs on Czech mate Josef Hrabal

Former Czech Republic international Josef Hrabal has signed for his home town team yet remains a potential option for Sheffield Steelers in a few months time.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 11:03 am

Hrabal first appeared on the South Yorkshire roster as a mid-season replacement for Mikko Kuukka in December 2019.

The start of season 2020-21 saw him re-join his local club HC Prerov before arriving back at Sheffield for the five week EIHL series.

Now he has inked a new contract with Prerov but has far from burned his bridges with Sheffield coach Aaron Fox

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Josef Hrabal, pic by Dean Woolley

Asked if Hrabal could have been an asset in next season's Steeler squad Fox said: "Yeah for sure. His situation, though, is that he has a wife and two small children that don't really travel.

"He texted me to say: 'I am going to have to start the year at home like I always do, the contract is open, if something happens in November or December...' that type of conversation.

"I just think he can't commit for eight or nine months, being away from his family for that long."

The longer the ice hockey season goes on the more chance he might finish the season somewhere else, said the coach, an admirer of the calm defensive prowess of the 35-year-old Czech.

Josef Hrabal, pic by Dean Woolley

"I love his compete-level, he plays the game the right way, he's a good person. I liked him a lot."

Fox revealed that Hrabal wasn't satisfied with his EIHL output in the mini tournament.

"I felt he was solid to be fair, he never wows you offensively although he did make some pretty nice offensive plays I guess in the five weeks.

"He drives the compete (level) of the guys, he is one of the most intense guys at practice, holds guys accountable.

Mikko Kuukka, playing against Manchester Storm for Steelers.

"He told me he didn't like his game at the Elite series, personally.

"He said he appreciated the team being interested in him but felt he hadn't been very good in the Elite series. That was just his own opinion."

Meanwhile, one of the biggest news platforms in the world - The Washington Post - has taken an interest in South Yorkshire's NHL prospect Liam Kirk.

In an article provided by The Associated Press, he said: "For me, being a kid from Maltby, England, growing up watching these NHL players on highlights, it’s something you always dream about.

“In England, it’s not an easy pathway to get to the NHL.

“My experience at the Worlds (championships) has definitely given me a lot more confidence. It’s going to be tough, these are top, top players. My mindset is to go in there (Arizona Coyotes; three-year entry-level contract) and do everything I can to earn a spot.”

The goal-hunting winger wants to become a better all-rounder.

“I definitely want to be on the forecheck more, hunt for pucks more, be more physical, create more battles,” he said. “The offensive side of things...I have a little bit of a knack for that, but I want them to see me battle for pucks and have a resilience about me.”