One Devil of a day

Czech de­fence­man Mozik ar­rives at Devils de­vel­op­ment camp late and with no equip­ment

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY TOM CANA­VAN

De­fence­man Vo­jtech Mozik isn’t likely to for­get his first day as a New Jersey Devil.

The 22-year-old Czech ar­rived a day late for a de­vel­op­ment camp be­cause of a visa prob­lem and a bag short be­cause of an air­line prob­lem.

The prob­lem was com­pounded be­cause the miss­ing bag had Mozik’s hockey equip­ment, forc­ing him to take the ice Tues­day with new skates, gloves and sticks.

Not only were they not bro­ken in, he used them af­ter three hours of sleep. His plane didn’t get in un­til the wee hours of the morn­ing.

While Mozik didn’t feel he showed much in his ses­sion with fel­low de­fend­ers, the Devils are hop­ing that the of­fen­sive­minded de­fence­man can make the jump to the NHL af­ter three sea­sons in the Czech Re­pub­lic’s top league.

“He wasn’t ter­ri­ble,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “It was good of him to ac­tu­ally go on the ice.”

“He came in and was a good sport about it,” Hynes said. “We just at least wanted to get him out there and ex­pe­ri­ence some of the skills stuff.”

Mozik was not im­pressed with his per­for­mance af­ter what he termed “a crazy trip.” His flight from the Czech Re­pub­lic to Lon­don was de­layed an hour and he had to run through the air­port to make his con­nec­tion for a six­hour flight.

“It was re­ally hard and I was ter­ri­ble,” said Mozik, adding he hopes to have his equip­ment back for Wed­nes­day’s 3-on-3 drills.

Mozik has some skills. He scored a ca­reer-high 10 goals this past sea­son, the most in the league by a de­fence­man. He also added 19 as­sists with Plzen in 51 games.

The per­for­mance drew in­ter­est from the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, but he opted to sign with New Jersey be­cause he saw more op­por­tu­nity with a team that is un­der­go­ing changes with a new front of­fice and coach­ing staff af­ter miss­ing the play­offs three straight years.

“I will do my best and I think it will be good,” Mozik said. “I will play hard and we will see now. But I re­ally want to play in the NHL and I will do ev­ery­thing for it and for the New Jersey Devils or­ga­ni­za­tion and I’m so re­ally happy that New Jersey gave me the chance.”

AP PHOTO

Cana­dian for­ward Bren­dan Gal­lagher, cen­tre, closes in on net as Czech Re­pub­lic goalie Petr Mrazek (2) makes a save and Vo­jtech Mozik (8) de­fends dur­ing IIHF World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships hockey ac­tion in Ed­mon­ton on Wed­nes­day, Dec. 28, 2011.

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