Vancouver Province article (Giant of a Giant needs go-ahead)January 7 2011 at 7:47 PM
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Giant of a Giant needs go-ahead
'Big-body guy' will be vital to us, says coach
By Marc Weber, The Province
January 7, 2011
Andrej Stastny faces off against Finland's Erik Haula in Buffalo.
Photograph by: Getty Images, The Province
He emerged from the locker-room in Crocs and still managed to look imposing.
"Huge legs," said injured Vancouver Giants captain James Henry, on crutches a few feet away, of Andrej Stastny.
The 19-year-old Slovakian centre, who seems every bit the 6-foot-4, 205 pounds he's listed at, joined the Giants on Thursday after competing at the world juniors in Buffalo, N.Y.
He didn't get to switch his sandals for skates yet as the Giants are awaiting his release from the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.
They are hopeful it will come in time for tonight's game at the Prince George Cougars.
Stastny did, however, don running shoes and go through an off-ice workout with Giants' strength and conditioning coach Ian Gallagher, who figured it was a positive sign the Slovak had a personal heart-rate monitor.
"I'm disappointed [he couldn't practice] but that's the rule," said Giants coach Don Hay.
"The good thing is he's here and he's excited to be here. To get a big-body guy like Stastny in there to win faceoffs and kill penalties will be important."
Giants' defenceman David Musil and assistant coach Yogi Svejkovsk, both Czechs, will help the transition.
Stastny said: "It's a great league. I'm happy."
In Prince George tonight and Saturday, he'll see a familiar face in Slovak defenceman Martin Marincin, an Edmonton Oilers second-round pick.
Vancouver added the centre to their protected list Oct. 6.
He was selected by Saskatoon in the 2010 CHL import draft but the Blades dropped him when they couldn't secure his release from his team in Slovakia.
The Giants had one of their two import spots open up when Swedish forward Casper Carning quit Oct. 4.
Stastny's agents, Ritch Winter and Gerry Johansson, represent three other Giants in Musil, Brendan Gallagher and Marek Tvrdon.
The Giants will also have Musil back from a month-long bone bruise, and they've added another new face on the blue line.
Defenceman Darren Bestland was picked up Wednesday for centre Matt MacKay in a swap of 20-year-olds with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Hay said Bestland's minus-24 rating -- second worst in the WHL -- doesn't faze him.
He referenced the 2007 addition of Mike Berube, who was minus-17 with the Red Deer Rebels, then plus-28 and plus-33 with the Giants the following two seasons.
"To add an exper ienced 20-year-old player that's been to a Memorial Cup, that's been in a winning organization, it's a big boost," Hay said.
"It's going to help every-body."
© Copyright (c) The Province
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