Roman Polak recently gave an interview to Czech paper iDnes on the state of the Leafs. Translation below courtesy of MLHS member ‘drummond.’
Pressure in Toronto?
Nah, in St. Louis, it was another story, says Polak.
Roman Polak is a tough defenseman, who is not afraid to play hardball. Recently he showed similar courage with his statement criticizing the performance of the team. To give you a better perspective, this is not something which would be common in the capital of hockey. “We needed to start calling things what they actually are,” he said in an interview to iDNES.cz.
The interview took place this weekend and Polak lived in uncertainty whether he would be traded elsewhere. In fact, he still lives, trade deadline ends at 21 hours CET. Polak would like to stay because his wife is in the sixth month of pregnancy.
On the other hand, Polak openly criticizes the team and the whole Toronto organization hoping the club finally wakes up after years of misery. “Another season and again without play-offs… It’s a strange feeling. I do not know how to handle it. Although I have a contract for one more year, but they can easily get rid of me … We’ll see how it turns out. This is not in my hands. ”
Have you ever experienced such a turbulent season?
It was bad. Especially, when we lost eleven in a row. It is very difficult to play in a situation like this. For me personally, it was even worse as I came from one of the best teams in the NHL to one of the worst. That does not help. I learned a lot of things, why some teams are winning and other are losing. Previously, I could not understand, because I was in St. Louis, who performed well every year. Now I know exactly the differences in players, on the ice and why the team loses, even though on paper it looks good and has a roster full of illustrious names.
What have you learnt? It’s the players fault, or management fault?
I think it’s the players, though of course everyone bears some responsibility. But it’s always the players. It’s about the details. The team must pull together. It is difficult to explain, I will not do that, now.
You were the first one who openly criticized his own team, which is not usual in Toronto. What was the reaction to your previous statements?
None at all, I think that everyone took it like it is. There’s no point in avoiding a hot issue or sugarcoating anything. We have to face it. It is impossible to passively stand aside and pretend that nobody knows anything and that nothing is happening. I was told by everyone that there would be (big) pressure from journalists and from the fans in Toronto, but I have experienced more pressure from management in St. Louis. In fact, in Toronto, if you don´t read papers and the internet, it is easy.
Right now, there is probably no pressure from management at all, right? You are just finishing the season.
Exactly, now there is no pressure whatsoever. The only pressure now is who gets traded and who stays.