Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Diva's Player Spotlight on: Zbynek Michalek

Zbynek Michalek is one of the Coyotes best kept secrets. Quietly leading the league in shots blocked, he certainly does not go unnoticed by the Phoenix fanbase.

"Z is probably the most underrated player in the entire NHL. He consistently puts himself between the puck and his goalie. I am sure that boy is covered in puck sized bruises, as he leads the NHL in blocked shots. He isn’t afraid to hop in and play goalie if needed either. He may not get a lot of goals, but the ones he does get usually come at the most needed times. They typically seem to be game winners or at least tie the game up. I don’t know what else to say about Z. His play on ice speaks volumes to the type of player he is. He is quiet but efficient and I wouldn’t have it any other way." -hipchecks

"Z is having the best year of his career. He's been a solid and stable D man and has just about blocked more shots than Bryzgalov!" -Q

How he got here: Z was born in Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech republic on December 23, 1982. Michalek began playing hockey when he was about six years old, and the game came easy to him. Michalek was not drafted in the NHL entry draft. He was acquired by the Coyotes from Minnesota for Erik Westrum and Dustin Wood on August 26, 2005.

Little Known Z Facts:
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite Musician/Band: Coldplay
Favorite TV Show: Survivor and CSI:Miami
Favorite Movie: Eight Below
Favorites Actor/Actress: George Clooney and Jessica Biel
Most Memorable Hockey Moment: 1st NHL game and winning the Calder Cup (AHL) in 2003.
Hobbies: surfing the internet and watching movies
Favorite City in the NHL: San Jose
Reason Behind Jersey Number: picked it when first started playing hockey
Nickname: Z
Best Friend in the NHL: Brother Milan Michalek (plays for San Jose Sharks)
Favorite Tech Gadget: Laptop
Favorite Vacation Spot: Anywhere in Croatia
Person He Would Like to Meet Most: Lance Armstrong
(from the 2008-2009 Phoenix Coyotes Team Yearbook)

What Z has to say:
“When I see a shot coming, I just try to block it if I can,” Michalek said. “In that moment, there’s no time to think about getting injured. I just do it.”

“This year, the coaches gave me more of a shutdown defenseman role versus the other teams’ top lines,” Michalek said. “It’s been challenging every single night and it’s a tough job because you have to be mentally ready every day and every game because you are playing against the best players on the planet. Blocking shots is just one part of it, but it can help us win games and I’m trying to help us win games. That’s the way I play. I don’t even think about it. It just comes natural to me.”

“You have to be careful not to screen your goalie,” Michalek said. “You have to realize that you can’t block every shot and on the ones you can’t block you have to make sure the goalie can see the puck. So you have to pick your spots and make sure the timing is right.” (from Zbynek Michalek feature at

More on what the fans have to say about Z :

"Rarely does a week go by that we don't see Z make an improvement.

Probably the most important steal the old regime ever made. The players we traded to snatch the boy are after-thoughts and long gone from the NHL

He doesn't say much but he has the heart of a lion (for courage, check is his league leading blocked shots status) a sweet wrist shot that has added a few timely goals for us, a slapshot that apparently has eyes that he just added to his arsenal this season, his stick work is sans pareil (well his partner Sauer is no slouch in that dept either but Z is the master). He doesn't cost much (like 1.25m per season) and he gives everything he's got every single game. He's the team leader most nights for TOI but never seems to fatigue.

Thats my baby boy, underrated and overlooked by the shortsighted people who think a D man has to score big to be worth a damn. But thats okay, Z is a modest and shy lil soul (until you really get to know his crazy side) and he does his best work outside of the spotlight and flyin under the radar." -Z4dfense

"Zybnek Michalek is one of the best defensemen on the team. He has got to be covered in bruises from head to toe! He blocks shots with his body just like Mathias(Oh how I miss him) Tjarnqvist used to do. He is an excellent penalty killer. HA! That sounds funny! Zybnek Michalek a killer. Hee hee! He also makes me laugh with that windshield wiper-like tongue of his. " coyotesfanjen

"Zybnek Michalek is a young d-man on the 3rd pairing... I notice that he's not going to burn up the scoring nor does he ever have a lot of penalty minutes. The one thing that does stand out to me is that he seems to have the knack of timely scoring. In other words, its not how much you score or make a big play, it's when you score or make a big play." -Jay Burd

"Zbynek Michalek is like Kim Kardashian’s sister. You may not have heard of Khloe. But she’s smart (comparatively), sexy and poses naked for issues that she cares about.

(On a side note, I would like to encourage most of our hockey players to also pose nude for causes that they care about.) But I digress. Zbynek is like Khloe in that he’s fantastic and hardly anyone is paying attention. He’s blocked 110 shots this year (as of 12/19/08 #1 in the league). If you’re not a numbers person- then know that he’ll sacrifice his body to stop a puck faster than you can say “Jesus Fish.” He’s fierce on the power play and cute as a Czech button. So pay attention to this week’s spotlighted player, you might just find that you’ve been missing out on the good stuff.

P.S. My Zbynek fantasy- since he’s so good at stopping pucks, I suspect he’s equally good at stopping cars. So we would spend an afternoon as honorary crossing guards for a local elementary school. And then follow it up with a quick round of hopscotch and a discussion of the childhood games he played in the Czech Republic." -The Virg

I'd like to end this player spotlight post with a photo tribute to Z. These photos were all taken by Bleadin' Teal in AZ and highlight some of Z's career here in Phoenix. We love you Z! Thanks for all you do for this team!








♥ -The Diva

AP Photos
Yahoo Sports


S & T Sports Fan Outlet said...

Go to a sports fan shop, team fan shop or sports fan outlet and purchase some fan gear to support your team. You can also have your favorite player autograph it.

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