Born February 17, 1988 (age 23) in Kladno, Czechoslovakia
Center for the Chicago Blackhawks
Michael’s journey to the NHL began in his native Kladno, where he played for the local club before being drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2006. When he played for Rabat Kladno, he was called “baby Jagr” because he resembled fellow Kladno boy Jaromir Jagr – in fact, he wore Jagr’s number 68 in Panthers training camp! After the draft, he went to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Océanic for two seasons before being called down to Sunrise.
It was a little more than halfway through the 2010-11 season (February 9, to be exact) when he and Alexander Salak were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. He adapted quickly, scoring his first goal against the Calgary Flames a month later. In April, he made franchise history by being the first Blackhawk to score a postseason penalty shot! It was also the second penalty goal at the United Center – Marian Hossa was the first back in January. The team felt so confident in his talent that they signed him to a three-year contract in July, hours before the Blackhawks Convention.
As I said before, Michael grew up in Kladno. Aside from Jagr, it’s the hometown of two other hockey boys, Jakub Voracek and Ondrej Pavelec. In fact, Michael and those two are pretty tight and stay in touch during the season. Because they’re all from the same town, they get to hang out together in the offseason and do fun stuff like play miniature golf.