Even before Czech sniper Jan Stransky decided to leave the Halifax Mooseheads in early May, he hadn’t exactly endeared himself to general manager Cam Russell.
Russell said Stransky was scheduled to fly home to take university exams after the final game of the regular season — regardless of whether Halifax was in the playoffs.
Russell said Stransky informed him a week before the regular season ended of the plan, which had been pre-arranged by Russell’s predecessor, Marcel Patenaude.
“He would have missed the first round,” said Russell. “It took me aback. I didn’t know what to say about it.”
There was heavy concern within the Mooseheads that Stransky’s focus wasn’t in the right place. Russell said Stransky was studying a full course load by correspondence and that he contemplated quitting hockey for school in December.
“His passion, to me, was school,” said Russell.
“I talked to his billet — he’d get up in the morning and he’d be working at it all day long. He’s pretty dedicated.”
Russell said he wanted Stransky’s “No. 1 priority to be to help the Mooseheads win hockey games.”
Although Stransky led the Mooseheads in scoring after coming over in a mid-season trade from Gatineau, Russell and consultant Bob (Tipper) LeBlanc went to the world under-18 championship in April to scout potential replacements.
“We were keeping our options open,” said Russell.
They were also looking for ways to move up from the No. 28 spot in June’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.
“If that would have happened, the possibility would have been there to replace him anyway,” said Russell.
Stransky signed a two-year contract in early May with his hometown team, Plzen. He confirmed the deal to Metro Halifax on May 7, but only told Russell this week.
“I’m glad he’s pursuing his passions,” Russell said.