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Kinrade takes a chance in Europe, inks one-year deals with HC Plezen 1929 in the Czech Republic

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
August 4th, 2011

By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports

It seems like only yesterday Nelson’s Geoff Kinrade was hoisting the Calder Cup over his head as a member of the Binghamton Senators.

Clicking the fast-forward button on the remote finds Nelson’s favourite son in the Czech Republic gearing up for the Europe’s most prestigious ice hockey pre season tournament as a member of the HC Plezen 1929.

Kinrade inked a deal with the Czech Republic franchise after declining another minor league deal with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

“Ottawa offered me another two-way contract and if I wanted to sign an NHL deal it would have to be with them,” Kinrade told The Nelson Daily on the reason why he decided to play in Europe after two seasons Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

 “(Ottawa) didn’t show me that I was a top prospect and their commitment seemed to be invested in other players.

“I also liked the chance to move to a new setting,” added the 26-year-old Nelson Minor Hockey League graduate.

Kinrade played two seasons in the American Hockey League for the B-Sens.

During that time the Michigan Tech product never got even a cup of coffee in the NHL by the Senators, past by countless times by Ottawa brass as the struggling franchise searched for answers with other players.

But there was Kinrade anchoring a defence that ousted the four teams, including the Houston Aeros in six games, to capture the 2011 Calder Cup Championship.

“No this isn’t a career ending move,” the six-foot, 207-pound defenceman said when asked if he ruling out ever returning to the North America and a shot at playing in the NHL.

“I will be unrestricted after this coming year and will have a chance to get offers from other NHL organizations (that) are interested,” he added. “I obviously need to have a good year in Plezen to better my chances at returning to an NHL organization.”

Kinrade said Ottawa wanted the former Nelson Leaf defenceman to sign another deal.

However, the middle son of Terri and Marg Kinrade, thanks to a European agent, inked a one-year deal with the Czech Republic franchise that pays more than any of Ottawa’s one-year-deals.

“I think (Europe) will be a good fit for me,” said the swift-skating Kinrade, playing all 23 playoffs games for the B-Sens, finishing the playoffs with a goal — an overtime winner — and four assists.

“I’ll (definitely) know soon enough.”

Soon enough? Try like right now.

While NHL and AHL players are barely getting off the 18th green with training camps more than a month away, Kinrade has already laced up the skates in training camp for HC Plezen 1929.

First action is Friday, August 12 when HC Plezen 1929 meets HC Mountfield in the first game of the 24-team European Tournament.

The other teams in the East Division, which HC Plezen 1929 is slotted into, include HC Slovan Bratislava, KalPa, Oulun Kärpät and Vienna Capitals.

The European Tournament has each team play one game against the five other teams in the same division and one game against one team from each of the other three divisions, for a total of eight games per team.

The other three has HC Plezen 1929 up against HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice from the South, Tappara from the West and HC Slavia Praha from the North.

The top two teams from each division qualify for the playoffs December 16-18 at the Salzburg Eisarena and Vienna’s Eisarena.
After the Euorpean Trophy event, HC Plezen 1929 begins play in the Czech Republic Extraliga.

HC Plezen 1929 finished fifth last season.

European hockey teams on average 52 games a season.

Despite experiencing a great playoff run, Kinrade didn’t feel he earned the respect of the Senators management.

Which is why the trek to Plezen, located 45 minutes west of Prague.

“I felt (signing in Europe) was in my best interest for my life and career,” said Kinrade, almost completely healed from an injury suffered during the playoffs.

Time will only tell.

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