In the Q&A, Vrbata discusses the new ownership group, his Olympic hopes and his future in Arizona. The translation from Czech to English is below, please bear with the choppiness of the language commonly associated with any foreign language translation.
You must have been relieved when the new ownership of the club was announced and the club didn't need to move, right?
Definitely, it was a big sigh of relief for everyone who has something to do with ice hockey here in Phoenix. The previous four seasons weren't easy. The situation full of uncertainty has been affecting everyone, not only the players, but also the coaches, people from the offices, everyone who was involved within the club. We were very happy that new owner was found and the agreements were made.
It would have been a huge shock for the supporters, there were talks about moving the club into Seattle...
Indeed, they finally learned to understand the game. During last four seasons we managed to gain our place in the playoffs three times. When the season starts, the attendances aren't that high, but once the regular season approaches the end and we are in the middle of battle to secure playoff spots, they find their way to the stadium, often it's even sold out.
The core of your team has been all together for a long time, is that an advantage?
Indeed, the core remained untouched for a long period of time. But if there is a chance to improve the roster it's not bad either, this year for example Ribeiro came and he became first line center. I would be very happy if we managed to bring in a left winger who could play with me and Martin Hanzal. Since Whitney is gone, many players were tried next to us. We would be happy to find someone who could stay with us.
Has the Western Conference changed since the realignment of divisions? Now you have Vancouver in yours, it will make it more difficult to gain a play off spot...
Western Conference has always been difficult, just to end up between the top-8 and enter the play off is a great achievement. And after the changes the difference in compare to Eastern Conference is even bigger. I've never had the possibility to enjoy having the play off secured with five matches to the end of regular season.
Your contract is about to expire at the end of season. How does it affect you considering that your performances will be vital for your next contract?
I'm trying not to think about that, but of course it's somewhere there in my mind. At the end of this season I'll be 33 years old, so the next contract might be the very last I'll sign at the NHL. For now my major concern is responsible play, as it was during all previous seasons of my contract.
Is your priority to remain in Phoenix? Five years ago you left as a free agent and you signed for Tampa, but your season was one to forget.
There were early talks during the summer and then during the training camp, I was hoping we would find a solution before the season started, but it hasn't happened. So now I'm just trying to play and give the best, we will see what will happen next.
So you wouldn't mind trying the free agency again?
I'm very happy in Phoenix, and so is my family. I consider it here as the best place I've ever played at. But I want to be rewarded accordingly for my performances I've had during my previous seasons.
Last season some of the other Czech attackers Voracek and Tlusty were shining, this year they are playing beyond the expectations. You are always going strong, this season you may even improve your season highest score.
If you look at my numbers during last seasons, you can notice that I've always been very consistent. I think this is most important, to play well consistently and to do your best to improve. It's nice to collect points. But sometimes you're lucky, you don't play that well, yet you earn points. And then there are moments when you feel well, you play well, but you just can't score some points. Right now I'm content with my numbers, I hope it will continue.
Do you think your consistent performances can help you to make the final cut for the Olympics selection?
That's very hard to say. I would prefer not to speak about that. It will depend on the coaches, they will decide who they want to name on the team. Within one month we will see.
With Marin Hanzal you have the advantage of the line chemistry, don't you think?
I really don't know what do the coaches want to do. I'm convinced that Martin Hanzal is one of our (Czech) best centers, he is being underestimated, he does a lot of hard work. This year he is praised because he has collected many points, but he was playing so well since couple of seasons already.
The national team head coach Hadamczik was meant to see your match against Chicago, have you spoken about the Olympics?
I've read that he was supposed to come, but I haven't met him. I didn't speak to anyone and Hanzal neither...