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September 14, 2015

Thomas Zizka

Tomas Zizka was an unheralded Czech defenseman who perhaps never stuck around long enough in North America to enjoy a full NHL career.

Drafted 163rd overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1998, Zizka came to North America as a 21 year old for the 2001-02 season, apprenticing in the AHL with the Kings' farm affiliate in Manchester.

He steadily establishing himself as a swift skating rearguard capable of making smart and safe moves with the puck. He was clearly not going to be a physical presence, a draw back in North America to be sure, but he showed he understood his positioning and how to use his stick and body best to play a sound game.

Zizka positioned himself to be a call up whenever the Kings had an injury on their blue line. Over two more seasons with Manchester Zizka got called up for 25 NHL games, scoring two goals and six assists.

The NHL lockout of 2004-05 sent many players searching for jobs. Zizka headed to Russia to play with Moscow Spartak before returning home to play with Slavia Praha in the top Czech league. He would never return to North America, playing until 2014 in his homeland.

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