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.