On Sunday, Czech Republic’s HC Ocelari Trinec announced the contracts of unrestricted free agents Taylor Leier and Jack Rodewald, for the current 2020-21 season. Leier, a product of Saskatoon, most recently served as a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization, while Rodewald, of Winnipeg, previously served with the Florida Panthers.
The Manitoban forward spent the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons between the Ottawa Senators and AHL affiliate Belleville, before being dealt to the Florida Panthers organization for the start of the 2019-10 season. Rodewald, however, only suited up in the minor leagues for the Springfield Thunderbirds, where he collected five goals, 16 points and 21 penalty minutes in 43 games.
Rodewald, 26, also found himself under heavy scrutiny this past May, as a leaked Instagram group chat consisting of himself and nine other Manitoban hockey players went public, to which those involved degraded a number of local figures (mainly women) as well as teammates (past and present) and their significant others.
But according to Trinec Manager Jan Peterek, Rodewald has learned from his actions and what transpired this past spring will not serve as a distraction moving forward.
“I don’t want to apologize in any way,” Peterek said in a team release Sunday. “Such speech does not belong to a decent society, and as a club we definitely do not identify with that. I believe that Jack has learned his lesson and will now display to his friends mainly with hockey skills. His involvement will also serve as an example to our young hockey players who are at home on social networks. One seemingly innocent conversation can get to the public and cause great difficulties in his career.”
Results from the publicity stemming from the leaked group chat included reprimands to the extent of contract termination for fellow participants Brendan and Jeremey Leipsic. A number of the others involved in the private group chat have seen various levels of ‘internal discipline’ from their respective hockey programs, while others have been fired from their jobs. Even a number of local Manitoban restaurants have barred members of this group chat from entrance to their establishments.
The easternmost squad within the 14-team Czech Tipsport Extraliga will gladly welcome the additions in its hopes for a strong finish to the season. Currently sitting first in the league, Trinec boasts 59 total points, a 19-2-5 record and a +37 goal differential, but has lost forward Filip Zadina in his return to the Detroit Red Wings. Recent signees Leier and Rodewald will now make up two thirds of the Canadian presence on the team, joining defenceman David Musil of Calgary.