For many in the world of hockey, playing within the NHL is the pinnacle of the sport. The NHL is the biggest, most competitive, and most well-salaried hockey league in the world. Over the years, fans of the NHL have grown used to seeing names from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia become regulars within the league. And while many have managed to really become icons of the modern NHL, other prospects have not quite managed to work out as intended. One name who fits that bill is Patrik Rybar, the Slovak who signed for the Detroit Red Wings as a major prospect.
While things did not work out in the NHL the first time around, Rybar has been showing his hockey skills in the Beijing Winter Olympics. Rybar was part of the Slovakian team who done so well at the tournament. The Slovakians picked up their first ever medal finish, earning the bronze medal as they beat Sweden in the third place match-up. Rybar took the tournament by storm, finishing with the best statistics in the tournament and turning heads once again.
In 2018, when he signed for the Red Wings, it was arguably too soon. He spent a year in the AHL before moving back to Europe, deemed a failure at such a high level. However, his excellent run of form in Beijing has reportedly has some NHL executives wondering if Detroit were too hasty a few years back.
Hockey is a sport where some players simply develop later than others. It has been the case in other major sports, too, including basketball. Some players simply do not adapt accordingly on their first visit to the major leagues. Throw in the pressure of playing for Detroit, too, and failure becomes almost expected for a young player.
Could Rybar end up back in the NHL?
It would appear that at least a few teams are going to take a look and see what was missed in the past. His time in the NHL was essentially spent as an understudy to Harry Sateri. Sateri was a playoff starter while Rybar sat, and he left for Europe to play in the Finnish leagues. However, some do believe that the form shown in Beijing is as likely to be an unrepeatable flash in the pan as it is proof that Detroit made a big mistake a few years ago.
Rybar is clearly a talented player, and if he had never played in the NHL the interest in him would surely be even greater. However, it does look like he could get a second shot purely because teams have a proven history of second chance opportunities paying off.
For Rybar, the chance to give it a second go in the biggest hockey league in the world would be hard to reject. However, having already been bitten once by the reality of NHL life, the Slovak might wish to take a pause before committing to anything. The experience has already been a failure once – does a Cinderella season at the Olympics really change enough to overcome that?