The Czech Republic had to make a couple of more changes to its World Cup roster this weekend after Tomas Hertl and Radko Gudas had to back out of the tournament as they continue to recover from injuries.
Replacing them will be a couple of KHL players, forward Michal Birner and defenseman Tomas Kundratek. Only Kundratek has any NHL experience (30 games with the Washington Capitals between 2011-12 and 2012-13). It is a series of moves that only further weakens what might be the weakest overall roster in the upcoming tournament.
The one notable name that was not added to the roster to replace Hertl is recently signed Dallas Stars forward Jiri Hudler.
The reason he isn’t going?
Well, it seems he did not return any of the national team’s calls or messages because he quite simply had no interest in playing in the tournament, according to his agent.
The fact that Hudler was left off of the team to begin with should be a surprise. The talent level on Czech Republic roster isn’t anywhere close to what it was more than a decade ago when it was one of the world’s hockey superpowers, and with Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias not on the roster it should have made Hudler an absolute lock.
He is, after all, still one of the most productive Czech players in the NHL. His 176 points over the past three years are third most among Czech players behind only Jakub Voracek and Jagr. Even looking at just this past season, during what was a bit of a down year for Hudler offensively, he was still fifth on that list.
But Hudler wasn’t named to the team which comes after he was left off of the Olympic roster in 2014 for the Sochi games.
It’s pretty obvious somebody in a position of power within the Czech hockey program doesn’t really value Hudler’s ability, so can you really blame him for not being willing to help them out only when they had no other options?