New Calgary Flames center Roman Cervenka left the KHL for the NHL because the Russia-based league will never be as good as its North American rival, he has said.
Cervenka, widely considered one of the best players outside North America, is a former KHL top goalscorer and played every game of April's Gagarin Cup final series that his Avangard Omsk team lost 4-3 to Dynamo Moscow.
The 26-year-old free agent completed a long-awaited move to the NHL this month after signing a $3.8 million one-year contract with Calgary in May.
"The KHL is a very, very good league but it will probably never touch the level of the NHL so that is why I decided to come and play here," Cervenka said on the Calgary website Thursday.
"It was always my dream, since I touched the ice. I've always been looking forward to playing in the NHL one day."
"After my first two days in Calgary, I have to say that I can see that this is a hockey town."
The language barrier may pose a problem for Cervenka, who has never played in an English-speaking country and does not give interviews in English.
Cervenka joined Avangard from Czech team Slavia Prague in 2010 to play alongside two-time Stanley Cup winner Jaromir Jagr.
In 137 KHL games with Avangard, Cervenka notched up 130 points including 70 goals and was an all-star player in both his seasons in the KHL.
He was a member of the Czech team that defeated Russia to win the 2010 world championship in Cologne, and won bronze with the national team a year later.
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