6'3", 202lbs, 67 points in 62 games in the OHL. Pic from David Bebee of the Waterloo Region Record.

With the NHL draft looming, last night I spent some time trying to learn a little bit more about the names we’d be hearing tonight. In the process, I stumbled onto a TSN video about Radek Faksa, an 18 year-old Czech prospect who’s predicted to go fairly high in the first round.

What a story.

Faksa is from Opava, a city of 60,00 people located in a poor region of the Czech Republic, just minutes from Poland’s border. He has two siblings, and with divorced parents, all three lived with their Mom. He was an exceptional hockey player.

Opportunities for a talent like him in a town like that were almost nil. His family was barely scraping by, and all he wanted to do was be a hockey player.

Well, people had noticed his unique gifts, and one option arose.

If he would leave his home and family and play for a team in Trinec, they would put him up in a hotel and feed him two meals a day. That sounds pretty fair for a young player trying to move on up, there was just one thing. “Young” is a bit of an understatement – he was 11 at the time.

With his father unwilling to communicate with the family, he and his mother had a tough decision on their hands – do you send your 11 year old boy off to live alone to pursue a dream?

In the end, they decided to go for it. She visited on weekends, they talked daily, but still – this was an 11 year old boy living by himself purely for the sake of chasing the big leagues.

He lived solo in that 9 x 9 room (plus bathroom!) for six years playing for that team before coming over to play for the Kitchener Rangers. Now…his dream is so close he can taste it.

I desperately want this kid to go high, make it, get paid, and help his family out. He’s self-sufficient, humble, and oh-yeah-by-the-way, quite talented. So talented in fact, that he’s one of the few from this year’s NHL draft class some think could stick in the NHL immediately (he’s very solid defensively).

The video, which I highly advise you watch, can be seen here (also, I highly advise TSN allow embedding of their best work). You can also check out the full profile our own Chris Lund did on him here.

Meet, and root for Radek Faksa tonight.

Comments (9)

  1. I was looking at the THN draft preview a couple days ago, and they have little maps of the countries in order to show where each player was born. The one that I noticed? Grigorenko. He’s from Russia, sure, but anyone look at where?

    About 30km from the border with China. By train it’s 8523km to get to Moscow. That’s 16 hours ahead of the majority of NHL cities.

    Same city as Alexander Mogilny, interestingly enough

  2. Um, did a dust storm just kick up in my office? Great story, reminds me of Ellen’s piece on Kopitar. Hope he’s livin’ the dream a few months from now!

  3. That same dust storm hit my office.

    As the father of a hockey playing kid that will be 11 in October, I can’t even IMAGINE being able to do that. Damn I hope he does well.

  4. Very happy Dallas picked this kid up in the first round.

  5. Wow.

    I am a Habs fan and while Galchenyuk was my first choice I was afraid the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to take him in a rare moment of Scott Howson clarity. I really liked Faksa, and if Galchenyuk was gone I seriously wondered about the possibility of trading down and taking whoever was the best available of Grigorenko, Forsberg or Faksa.

    I love two way forwards with character. I had no idea about this backstory. If I had I probably would have wanted to take him just on principle.

  6. Hi, thanks for mentionig Radek’s success! But I would like to correct some facts, as I am originaly from Opava, the some town as Radek, and I was running the club website for several years.

    The first – reason why he moved from Opava to Trinec wasn’t that his chances in Opava was close to nil. Actually, hockey programme in Opava at that years really sucked because of bad management, so he went to better one to Trinec, but he would made some progress even staying in Opava – his team mate Matej Machovsky stayed in Opava and eventually made it to OHL (and was really close to drafting) – so even not-so-good conditions in Opava were good enough to develop some talent. But of course, better programme in Trinec helped Radek alot, also he had to take care of himself which prepared him for living abroad.

    And second, town of Trinec is even smaller and even closer to the Polish border than Opava, but local hockey club is generously supported by local steel factory and thus they could afford to pick some talent there (they won the Czech championships year ago btw.)

    I wish him the best and we are proud of his achievements and his story so far. I hope we will see him in the NHL soon, like Radek Bonk, Rusty Klesla and David Moravec who managed it from Opava to NHL before him.

  7. Hi there, should add some facts, since I happen to know, he grew up with his mother and siblings because the mom threw out a very loving dad due to her meeting another man. Radek has a WONDERFUL dad that was shut out. He tried to get shared custody and that is not easy for a man.

    Radek’s uncle played hockey all his life, Stanislav Pavelec, and he played a MAJOR part in Radek’s young hockey life.

    I wish Radek all the best, but I hope he knows that his dad loves him so much and not because his son is now a big hockey player.

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