David Pastrnak: Things to know about the NHL star gearing up for Beijing 2022

Pastrnak has been lighting up the NHL and setting all kinds of records. And he's "honoured and humbled" to represent the Czech Republic at February's Olympic Winter Games.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Ice hockey prodigy David Pastrnak is charged up and ready to electrify the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

The two-time NHL All-Star has been ripping up the record books and stamping his name next to immortals like Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, and Jaromir Jagr, and now he's excited to step on Olympic ice for the first time.

Jagr was part of the Czech team that stunned the world by winning Olympic gold at Nagano 1998 - before Pastrnak's second birthday - and now it's time for a new generation.

'Pasta' to his friends and fans, the Boston Bruins superstar has been named in the first round of the Czech team selection announcements, and you could say he's pretty happy about it.

"Obviously a childhood dream to play in the Olympics for your country," he said after hearing the news, "it was very touching. I'm honoured and I'm always going to love representing my country... I feel very humbled."

Read on for the top things to know about him including his great inspiration, his idol, his brilliant 'Dumb and Dumber' moment, his record-breaking rise through hockey's ranks, and the tragedies that have touched his life.

1. David Pastrnak's father: Inspiration

After a long battle with cancer, Milan Pastrnak passed way in 2013, just four days before his son David's 17th birthday.

Always encouraged by his father to play hockey, David threw himself into training and resolved to make it in the game his dad always wanted him to play.

A year later he was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round, the 25th pick overall.

His talent back home in the Czech Republic was undeniable: in 2012 he had the most goals (41), the most game-winning goals (11), and the most points (68) in the Under-18 league.

Arriving in the States at just 18, it was clear that the Bruins had picked a prodigy.

Initially sent to play with the Bruin's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Providence Bruins, Pastrnak had 28 points - 11 goals and 17 assists - in 25 games.

Having started playing in the AHL in October 2014, he was promoted to make his NHL debut the following month.

His first goals came in January 2015, and in March he became the youngest Bruins' player to score an overtime game-winning goal in regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes.

That was the first of many 'youngest ever' records he'd fell.

2. David Pastrnak records: 'Youngest ever' honour roll

At the Bruins Pastrnak was driven to succeed from day one and his 'youngest ever' records are ridiculous.

The youngest ever NHL player to bag six points in a single playoff game when he was 21, the youngest Bruin to score 30 goals in regular season at 20, most goals in Bruins' history before the age of 23, first player in Bruins history to score all of his team's four goals in a game, youngest to score 30+ goals in three successive seasons... the list goes on.

When Pastrnak scored a hat-trick against the Montreal Canadiens in February 2020, it was his eighth of the season and one more than the legendary Phil Esposito's seven in the 1970-71 season.

He also became the first player since Gordie Howe in 1951-52 to score multiple hat-tricks in a season against Les Habitants.

Even Wayne Gretzky isn't safe with this Czech shooting star around - that six-point performance in the playoff game when he was 21? That record used to belong to The Great One.

He's made history for the Czech Republic already too as the youngest ever to win the Golden Stick Award - for the best Czech player - at just 21 years and 27 days.

That was the first of a record five consecutive awards, more than '98 Olympic heroes Jagr and netminding legend Dominik Hasek, although he will have to go some to approach Jagr's record of 12 in total.

Did we mention he's still only 25?

3. Pastrnak's hero David Krejci welcomes him to the Bruins

When a wide-eyed 18-year-old Pastrnak was drafted into the Boston setup, it made it all the more special that his hero was already there.

Czech star David Krejci played with the Bruins for 15 seasons, and a young Pastrnak couldn't believe he'd have a chance to skate alongside the player he idolised as a kid.

When Krejci reached out and sent a message to his young understudy, Pastrnak could hardly believe it - and that was the beginning of a great relationship as Krejci took the teenager under his wing.

Seen as a steady and reliable defenseman, Pastrnak saw much more in Krejci's game:

“He’s underrated as a playmaker. His vision on the ice is unbelievable, his patience in the game is great,” he said in February 2021.

4. 'Czech Mates' Pastrnak and Krejci to play together at the Beijing 2022?

The 'Czech Connection' even played some of the 20/21 season on the same line, shaking up the Bruins' potent Marchand–Bergeron–Pastrnak trident.

The younger Czech star had nothing but praise for his senior lineman at the time:

“It seems like he has so much time and he makes it look so easy when he has the puck on his stick. It’s the way he is and how patient he is. He’s been unbelievable and a great mentor to me. It helps that we are from the same country. I’m excited to play with him on the wing.”

Krejci finally called time on his NHL career before the 21/22 season to return home, but they could join forces again in Beijing if Krejci is selected for the Czech team.

At the 2018 World Championships, we got a little glimpse of the difference they can make when they combined to stun a heavily favoured Russian team.

With the Bruins eliminated in round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two Davids raced across the world to pull on the Czech shirt at the 2018 IIHF World Championships in Denmark.

A rampant Russian side had won their previous three games by a combined 20-0 scoreline, but the two new additions hit the ground running. Krejci had one goal and three assists while Pastrnak assisted one and scored two - including a dramatic OT winner - as the Czechs recorded a famous 4-3 victory.

They lost out to the U.S. in the quarters 3-2 but it was a sign of the impact these two world class players can have.

So will we see them team up again in Beijing?

Many hockey fans hope so.

4. David Pastrnak baby - a second great tragedy

Despite his young years, Pastrnak has been through two great tragedies in his life.

The first was losing his father when he was still a teenager. The second happened in June 2021 when he and his partner Rebecca Rohlsson lost their baby boy Viggo Rohl Pastrnak after just six days.

He posted a picture of his son's feet with this message on his social media:

"We have an Angel watching over us and we call him SON. You will be loved FOREVER."

5. David Pastrnak: Mental strength and a sense of humour

The fact that Pastrnak has got up and played on and still shone on the ice despite those two crushing hits that life has thrown at him is a testament to his mental strength.

Despite a traumatic summer, the Bruins' No.88 started the Olympic 21/22 season at top speed contributing 15 points in his first 14 games - five goals and 10 assists.

Humour is often talked about as a coping mechanism for the difficulties in life and 'Pasta' is not lacking in that department either.

He loves to laugh and to make others laugh, like the time he chipped his teeth and couldn't resist a little impression of Jim Carrey's character Lloyd Christmas from the film 'Dumb and Dumber'.

6. David Pastrnak the goalie?

On his way to becoming one of the greatest goal scorers the NHL has ever seen, things could have been much different for Pastrnak if he hadn't listened to his mother.

When he was a child, his mother discouraged him from playing as a goalkeeper because the equipment was more expensive.

So ice hockey fans have a lot to thank Pastrnak's mom for, if he had strapped on the goalie pads and stayed between the pipes, this would be a different world.

At 25, we have many years left to enjoy David Pastrnak's extraordinary talent, and we're as excited to watch him step on Olympic ice in Beijing as he is to compete.

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