- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Bobby Holik of the New Jersey Devils is what he is, and if that's not good enough, tough.
What he is not is a first-line center. Not his style. First-line centers don't do the things Holik enjoys banging, crashing, being nasty in a semi-nice way, skilled but infuriating at every turn.
"There are 30 teams [in the league], and I believe with my abilities I could be a Number One center," Holik said. "Do I want to be a Number One center? No. I want to play the same role I've been playing. My priority is to be on a winning team."
But why not be on a winning team and be a No.1 center at the same time?
"Actors and actresses don't want to be stereotyped they want to take on different roles, and they stink at it," Holik said. "I want to be stereotyped."
Holik wants to be the guy who beats up the schoolyard bully at recess and then scores the winning goal short-handed in overtime, as long as he doesn't have to center the guys who are supposed to do all the scoring.
But even doubling the center's ice time in the third period couldn't provide the spark needed to prevent Carolina from upsetting the Devils in their quarterfinal playoff series. The Hurricanes won yesterday's game 1-0 to take a 4-2 series triumph. It was Carolina's first victory in a best-of-seven series and, depending on the outcome of the Boston-Montreal series, could leave the Hurricanes as the No.1 seed in the East.
"We've had two great runs the last two years [a win and a loss in the Stanley Cup finals], but this year the run wasn't as good," Holik said. "It's been a tough year, and for the next few days it's going to be tough because I don't know if I'm coming or going."
No matter where he plays, Holik probably will be worth a lot more money shortly after July 1. He will be an unrestricted free agent on that date and has already told the Devils that he is going to test the market.
Teams are lined up waiting for a chance to meet his price, starting with the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, possibly the Washington Capitals and more than a few others. Holik also will listen to what New Jersey has to say.
The durable center asked the Devils for $4.75million last summer, which nobody thought was out of line except not surprisingly the Devils. Holik took New Jersey to arbitration, was awarded $3.5million and vowed on the spot to see what others had to offer. Insiders say he prefers to stay with the Devils but is not averse to moving.
The estimate is that at least four teams will make serious bids for the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder. And Holik, 31, should walk away with about $7million.
He appears to be just what a lot of teams would love to have but few can afford a multitalented individual who can provide muscle, speed, scoring and grit up the middle and can fill in on the first line should the need arise.
Holik was drafted 10th overall in 1989 by the Hartford Whalers, who turned into the Carolina Hurricanes five years ago. But Holik was traded to New Jersey in August 1992 and has been happily upsetting the opposition ever since.
He was born in Jihlava, Czechoslovakia, on New Year's Day 1971. His father was the coach of the Czech team and drove his son hard to be a better player than he had been.
The younger Holik, a nationalized U.S. citizen, has no intention of retiring any time soon but might take a look at politics when he does. That in itself would require a move, he noted, because he is very conservative politically and concedes he couldn't win any race in liberal New Jersey.
However, he owns a ranch in Utah (his wife raises horses), a state that might be more to his political liking. But the state doesn't have much of a hockey background.

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