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Q&A with Rostislav Klesla

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Posted: Saturday June 24, 2000 08:42 PM

Rostislav Klesla , 18, went fourth overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets. A 6-2, 198-pound Czech who played for the Brampton Battalion of the OHL last season, Klesla was the top-rated defenseman in the draft.

Q: Have you always been offensively minded?
A: When I see the chance to go, I take it and try to score a goal.

Q: How close are you to playing n the NHL?
A: It's tough to say. An expansion team, they may need me in one year or two. I will do my best in my game. Then the coach and GM will make a decision.

Q: One of the problems Patrik Stefan [No. 1 overall in 1999] had in Atlanta last year was the fact that he didn't have a lot of good players around him to complement his skills. Is it more difficult going to an expansion team?
A: Exactly. He was first overall, but he was only 18 or 19. He needs good wings, so he can learn from them. If he doesn't have good players around him, he can't do everything by himself.

Q: How do you feel about Columbus?
A: It feels good, you know. They're a special team.

Q: How much English did you have when you came to play in Sioux City two years ago?
A: I had some English in school. Then I went to Sioux City and the guys on the team taught me everything. After three months, I was OK. I could speak. Month-after-month, I was better and better.

Q: Was it valuable to come over?
A: My agent, Jiri Crha , he thinks -- and I think so too -- to come early in North America and learn the language and the style of hockey, then it's easier.

Q: How did you find adjusting to the smaller ice?
A: Sioux City was like the smallest rink ever. So it was different. AS the season went on, I liked it. I didn't have to skate all around. I don't mind it. I like the smaller rinks.

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