While big Czech forward Martin Hanzal has played only seven NHL games over the past two years, he's refusing to hang up the skates for good.
Hanzal is still under contract with the Dallas Stars for another couple months, but that hasn't prevented him from forging a new path in his native Czech Republic. Hanzal, along with his brother Jiří and former extra-league hockey player František Mrázek, they have founded a new hockey team in České Budějovice called HC Samson. The team will play in the 4th division of professional Czech hockey and they already boast some serious NHL talent.
That's because Hanzal has convinced former NHLers Radim Vrbata, Rostislav Klesla and Vaclav Nedorost to join the team. Together with Hanzal, these four players have over 2,500 NHL games between them and obviously add a wealth of talent and experience to this new club. These guys are used to facing NHL quality defensemen and goaltenders... just think of what they'll be able to do when they're up against the 4th division of Czech hockey. Frankly, it's going to look like men amongst boys.
I mean, just look at what Jaromir Jagr has been able to do at 48 years old in the Czech league's 2nd division. The ageless wonder put up a remarkable 15 goals and 29 points in 38 games this season with his hometown Kladno Knights. Jagr, like Hanzal with HC Samson, is part-owner of the Knights and essentially signs his own paycheques. Unlike Hanzal though, Jagr doesn't have any former NHLers alongside him to help power the Knights. It's all Jammy, all the time.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Hanzal's NHL future. The big man has fought through some debilitating injuries since signing with the Stars back in 2017, but he's just 33 years old. Is he done with the NHL? Will someone give him another shot? Is he even healthy enough to play? I'm willing to bet that he could still dominate the Czech 4th division while playing on crutches, but the NHL is a different beast entirely. In any case, here's wishing Hanzal the best of health and success with his new venture back home in the Czech Republic.