Houdek is back in Pilsen. He talks about the wilds of Sparta and the return home

Is home. When he talks about Pilsen and hockey in front of a wild audience, his eyes shine. “First thought after coming back? Big hunger, energy to show that this is where I belong. I was born here, I went to hockey with my dad in Pilsen from a young age and sat on his lap during matches. All in all, it’s an amazing emotion,” says the tough guy. In an interview with Sport and isport.cz, he discusses his sharp game. If he wins a stable place, look forward. He doesn’t plan to cut back. And also watch out for his shot.

Did you hear from the coaches that they needed someone in Pilsen who would bring more ferocity to the game?
“Yes, something along those lines. There are now more guys who have similar parameters to me and a similar style. I think it’s the right step, even in today’s hockey you sometimes need to toughen up. Players of my type are not as popular as they used to be, but we still have our place.”

It seemed to me that Plzeň really reached this point at the end of the regular season. For example, when I think of the match with Vítkovice, Škodovka won, but they got a crazy load and dealt with a mess just before the playoffs.
“I returned home after an injury at the end of the season, I just saw this match. And yes, Vítkovice’s parameters were very noticeable here. The boys were then eliminated in the preliminary round against Boleslav, which was mainly because they really had a lot of people on the sidelines. They would probably welcome some hardness here, so I’m here too.” (smiles)

You still have the same fury as before, haven’t you softened as the years go by?
“No, rather the opposite. I’m not afraid of anything, we’re all just human and nobody’s a robot. You won’t find anyone who can stand all the fights or win all the battles at the bar. Everyone can be beaten, whether the other person is bigger or heavier, everyone can sit on their ass. I still like hard play, I was just a bit wilder before, that’s true.’

Mostly technical players come from Pilsen, mostly smaller, not very big edges. Have you always stood out among your peers because you know how to step into it?
“I inherited my toughness mainly from my dad. From the beginning he went to every practice and match, he always managed to get there after work. He demanded things from me that should be automatic, that you don’t brake 10 centimeters before the blue one, but you drive right up to it, that you finish every fight, that I think about where every shot goes. Sometimes we still fight about hockey, but if it were otherwise, I’m never like that.”

But again, that style put you in a box, and the first match in the extra league when you were 19 was enough for you.
“You could say that I put myself in a box, I accepted the role of playing hard and sometimes fighting back. Otherwise, my journey to A would be much longer in Pilsen. If you consider that I would come there from the junior team with the fact that I only collected some points and should skip players like Lukáš Pulpán or Peter Čerešňák? They had a strong position on the power play, both defenders like crazy. So I chose a different path, but of course in the youth the coaches wanted me to add other things to that and score goals too.”

After your first substitution in your life, when you gave the ball to Kvapil and then he got into a fight with Piskáček, the whole hockey Czechia suddenly knew you. I guess you won’t forget the scene from the O2 arena either, right?
“It still gives me goosebumps, I’ll never forget it. In addition, the whole day was terribly specific, an awful lot of things happened.”

What was special about the whole day?
“I graduated in the morning, then I went to the match, and I didn’t even expect to jump into that match. I ended up playing. I probably wouldn’t change anything… Although, the little thing on Marko Kvapil’s back probably would.”

Would you take away?
“He cut the stick off my teammate, which is simply not done. But the explanation could have gone differently from me. But at that moment and in the huge adrenaline rush? I will not forget that.”

You received a punishment from the disciplinarian, we, the journalists, Sparta fans didn’t exactly love you. What did it do to you at 19?
“If I took all of this too much, it wouldn’t exist. Sure, there were things that I’m only a five-second back, or that I can only fight and nothing more. But last season, for example, I also played for Poruba in the 1st league. The way he plays for a long time speaks for him. If someone wanted to hate me just based on that moment against Sparta, they probably never experienced a similar situation.”

Were you relieved when Marek Kvapil said that you didn’t end his career and Jan Piskáček didn’t pretend that someone should make you feel guilty for him?
“Goals are scored in hockey, but there are also fouls and stopwatches are given for them. I made a foul, there was nothing to solve here. But I smack in front of Mark Kvapil for admitting that I didn’t cause his injury.”

At the same time, he could have a nice ride…
“Could. But I would give even more credit to Honzo Piskáček. Then he had problems after a concussion, it took him a long time to come back. I then read from him in the newspaper that it was a fair fight where he simply lost. I really respected him for that. Someone else then says in the interview how he hopes the disciplinarian will eat Houdka for this. But Honza, who took it the most and had the most right to scold me, recognized that he had lost and didn’t want to dwell on it.”

Can you also admit defeat like this?
“Yeah, David Musil then KOed me with one shot. I lost, he didn’t make the excuse that I hadn’t studied the know-how of hockey fighting at that time. Once up, once down. I also wrote it on Instagram, there was nothing to solve. That’s probably how it should be, accept defeat, learn from it and not make the same mistake next time.”

Then it’s quite ironic that now in the summer of 2022, you and Piskáček Plzeň have signed a contract, huh?
“Sure, these coincidences are really nice. In October 2019, I had a fight with David Musil, then in November he flew to the national team with twenty. At that time there was also an A team in Finland. Well, we’re flying home, and David was sitting on the plane across the aisle.”

Did you arrange a second round?
(smiles) “We had a bit of a dig at each other, more so David, how is my nose. Then we chatted on the way back to the Czech Republic. I must say that he is also a great person.’

If you and Samuel Bitten will be in Pilsen now, is it also a message to the rest of the extra league that your players cannot be harmed without punishment?
“I believe that no one will allow themselves to make a foul of the type of bumping from behind when blocking. If this happens, you will be punished, maybe even disciplined. But there is also a high probability that we, or someone else, will jump on it. Standing up for teammates is automatic, only some of us fight more.” (smiles)

Do you feel that the time has come for you to fully focus on the extra league and stop leaving Pilsen to gain experience after the first league?
“I’d like to, I’d like to get into the back six, play simple, not think nonsense. Nice step by step, if I get into the top six, I would like to stay there and so on. It’s my dream to play at home.”

On the other hand, the days of big open ice hits are over. In Pilsen, this concept is also made more difficult by the fact that you want to play with a high level of attack, so this way of playing places relatively high demands on the players as well. You can’t go anywhere, you can hit the opponent, but fall. Isn’t it difficult to sell your hockey?
“I like these challenges. The system is definitely harder in that when I’m close to the player, the body plays harder than if I only find it when I drive against him. From the point of view of the system, however, it is great that we want to stop the opponent already in the attacking zone, so that the game does not reach us at all. I can apply my game in more situations, for example in front of the goal, or after substitutions, when you jump on the ice and the distance is there. I will also show toughness, don’t worry.” (smiles)

You’re still young at 22, but isn’t your body showing signs that it can’t take it all after playing this way of hockey?
“I am of the opinion that the body is a machine, it gets used to it. Of course, even the machine should get something back, you also have to take care of the car. You need to give your body energy, but the next day you simply have to come to training and go at it again despite the pain, you’ll sweat, your body will go elsewhere.”

Last season you collected 14 points (5+9) in 35 games for Poruba. Did your year in the 1st league advance you?
“I got the space, but it wasn’t rosy at first, I had to fight for it. I was the youngest there by three years and started as the seventh back. I have a strong shot, so I thought about the position on the power play, it was quite good for me there and we understood each other with the boys. We just weren’t as high as expected, but that year definitely helped me a lot. A lot of people also gave me enough for my next career, for example Michal Barinka, he may have saved my career when he sent me to the right doctor for surgery after an injury.”

Wait, you had such poor prospects with a broken wrist?
“There were also a lot of negative forecasts, luckily it didn’t stop there, there were enough people who encouraged me with positive thoughts. I didn’t pick the perfect injury, but it’s okay now.’

Are you a player who enjoys hitting someone well, sending energy to the stands and then returning it with great emotions?
“Just talking about it gives me goosebumps. (laughs) That’s right, the fans give us energy, and we give it back with what we perform. When a goal is scored, the whole hall is on its feet. When something negative happens, like someone shooting down my teammate, the whole hall is on its feet too. Something goes down and the fans eat it up, me too. I know there are people who don’t like my style and will never like it. But I believe that most fans like this in Pilsen.”

HC Škoda Plzeň Everything about the club HERE

Klatovy cheers for Mužík.


The article is in Czech

Tags: Houdek Pilsen talks wilds Sparta return home

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