Martin Hostak

Up until the very late 1990s, the stereotypical European player in the NHL was a small player with little physical game what-so-ever. They were on the team for the immense skill and skating abilities.

Martin Hostak was the exception to this rule.

Martin Hostak was a big man from Hradac Kralove, Czechoslovakia. At 6'3" and 200lbs, Martin used his size well when in position of the puck. Like Sweden's Ulf Dahlen, it was tremendously difficult to dislodge the puck from Hostak because he was so strong on his feet. However without the puck, Hostak was as gentle as a pussy cat.

Hostak was also a terrible skater - a very rare trait of a European NHLer. Simply put, he was slow. A plodding, knock-kneed skater, he didn't have the speed to get to a loose puck or to pressure a puck carrier.

Although he was a big European who couldn't skate, Hostak was very stereotypical of Europeans when it came to his hand skills. Hostak was perhaps one of the best stickhandlers of his time. A great stickhandler in a crowd, he also possessed a great wrist and snap shots. However, because of his lack of speed, he was never able to really use those gifts.

A third round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987, Hostak joined the Flyers in 1990 at the age of 23. Hostak showed up out of shape, not realizing just how dedicated NHL athletes really are. Hostak struggled in his rookie season with 3 goals and 10 assists in 50 games.

The following season Hostak failed to get into good enough shape to please the Flyers. That combined with his lack of speed saw him play the whole year in the minors except for a 5 game stint in which he pick up one assist.

Unhappy with life and his career in North America, Hostak returned to Europe after two seasons in the Flyers organization. Hostak would join the famous Modo AIK of the Swedish Elite League where he was a solid performer for 4 seasons before retiring from hockey.

During his 4 seasons in Sweden, Hostak always performed with the Czech. Republic national team in the World Championships as well as 1994 Olympics where he helped his team finish 5th overall.


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