CALGARY, AB -- After signing a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames this spring, Roman Cervenka had one request that was extremely important to him.
He wanted to don the number 10.
"I was born on the 10th. I've played always with 10, ever since I was a kid," Cervenka said through a translator. "My father also played with 10."
Cervenka was introduced to the Calgary media on Wednesday morning, wrapping a quick tour of the city that saw him meet with the team's management and training staff. While his stay was brief, Cervenka took an instant liking to Calgary.
"After my first two days in Calgary, I have to say that I can see that this is a hockey town. Everything I heard about it - that the town is filled with hockey - (is true) and I'm very, very happy.
"I'm really looking forward to playing in Calgary."
The 26 year-old played for Omsk Avangard in the KHL for the past two seasons. He was an offensive force for the club, tallying 54 goals and 100 points through 105 regular season games.
Cervenka was also key in Avangard's postseason success. In his first year with the team, he suited up for 12 playoff games and scored nine points (five goals, four assists). Last year, he played 20 postseason dates and amassed 11 goals and 21 points in that span.
His play last season season earned him the KHL's Golden Helmet award. He joined goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko (Dynamo Moscow), defencemen Dmitry Kalinin (SKA) and Kevin Dallman (Barys), and forwards Alexander Radulov (Salavat Yulaev) and Mikhail Anisin (Dynamo Moscow) in receiving the award and being named to the KHL 2011-12 season all-star team.
While he is thrilled with his success in the KHL, his goal has always been to play in the NHL so the decision to leave Russia was relatively easy.
"It was always my dream, since I touched the ice," he stated. "I've always been looking forward to playing in the NHL one day.
"The KHL is a very, very good league but it will probably never touch the level of the NHL so that is why I decided to come and play here."
Other NHL teams have been interested in Cervenka's services for years but the pivot was dedicated to improving his game. He honed his skills in the KHL, feeling it would better prepare him for the transition to the NHL, and when the Flames began talking to him this year, he felt very comfortable with the idea of making his North American debut in Calgary silks.
"I really liked the interest of the Calgary Flames, how they talked to me and showed me the (role they saw me in).
"I feel this is the best organization for me to come to the NHL."
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