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Milan Michalek thinks the Czech Republic can win the World Cup of Hockey ‘if the goalie plays good’

Ice Hockey - Day 8 - Czech Republic v Latvia

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: Milan Michalek #9 of Czech Republic looks on during the ice hockey men’s preliminary game between Czech Republic and Latvia on day 8 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 19, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The glory days of the Czech Republic’s international hockey team are clearly in the rear-view mirror. They had a pretty good run, but gone are the days of Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek leading their team to gold.

The Czech’s biggest international hockey victory came in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan where they took home the gold medal. They followed that up by winning three consecutive golds at the World Hockey Championship from 1999 to 2001 and they also won the 2000 and 2001 World Junior Championships.

They last won a major tournament back in 2010 when they took home another gold at worlds, but they’ve been relatively quiet ever since.

Going into this fall’s World Cup of Hockey, it’s no secret that the Czechs won’t be favored to win the tournament, but if you ask veteran forward Milan Michalek, they have a chance.

“I’m really excited. It’s a special tournament,” said the Leafs forward, per Sportsnet. “Yeah, we’re probably going to be underdogs, but you never know. If the goalie plays good, I think we have a chance in a short tournament.”

That goalie will likely be Detroit’s Petr Mrazek. Also on the roster are Ondrej Pavelec and Michal Neuvirth.

Like with the Czech national team, Michalek will be counted on to provide the Maple Leafs with some solid leadership in 2016-17. Toronto is smack in the middle of a total rebuild and veterans with Michalek’s experience are few and far between on the Leafs roster.

“I think that’s why they brought me here—to show the young guys the way,” said Michalek.

“I’m actually really excited to be here [in Toronto]. I love the city. So does my wife. We’re expecting a second child now, so it’s going to be good.”

To see the Czech Republic’s full World Cup roster, click here.