Moncton Wildcats Klima Brothers (Kevin and Kelly) – Prospects with NHL Bloodline’s
Moncton Wildcats Klima Brothers (Kevin and Kelly) are number 12 on our list in a series dedicated to draft-eligible prospects with current or past family ties to the NHL. Kevin/Kelly are twin son’s of former NHLer Petr Klima, drafted 86th overall (5th Round) by Detroit back in 1983.
Matthew Tkachuk, Jakob Chychrun, Alex Nylander, Kieffer Bellows, and Logan Brown are the first names to come to mind for 2016 draft-eligible prospects with current/or former NHL bloodline’s.
Both Keith Tkachuk and Michael Nylander had long, successful careers. Brian Bellows played nearly 1200 games, producing more than 1000 points. Jeff Brown also had a solid career posting 585 points in 747 points from the back-end. Jeff Chychrun was a 1984 draft pick, a veteran of 262 games playing until 1993-94, finishing his career with AHL Cape Breton.
We are featuring 15 draft-eligible prospects with NHL bloodline’s/family ties. The 2016 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 24-25 in Buffalo, New York at the First Niagara Center.
NHL Bloodline’s: Moncton Wildcats Klima Brothers (Kevin and Kelly)
Moncton Wildcats Klima Brothers (Kevin and Kelly)
Father: Petr Klima
Petr Klima was a versatile winger with impressive offensive instincts. He had a storied NHL career as one of those extremely good secondary pieces. A 6’0 190lbs Czech forward, Klima represented Czechoslovakia (now separated Czech Republic and Slovakia) on the International stage several times before making his NHL debut.
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As a rookie for Detroit in 1985-86, Klima scored 32 goals, 24 assists (56 points) in 74 games. He played for the Red Wings until November 1989 when he was traded to Edmonton. In a little over four years with Detroit, Petr scored 129 goals, 93 assists (222 points) in 293 games.
Klima also made three playoff appearances for Detroit, posting 13 goals, 14 assists (27 points) in 31 postseason games.
Petr went on to produce 53 points in 63 games during the 1989-90 regular season, adding five goals in 21 games en route to a Stanley Cup Championship.
He would go on to spend the next three seasons with Edmonton, collecting 118 goals, 85 assists (203 points) in 258 total regular season games. Petr added 13 goals, 10 assists (23 points) in 54 playoff contests.
Petr Klima did a lot of bouncing around in the latter half of his career, playing for Tampa Bay between 1993-94 to 1996-97. He also saw a short stint with both Pittsburgh and Edmonton in 1996-97.
Klima went overseas in 1997-98 to play in Germany, but returned for one final comeback attempt in 1998-99, playing once again for Detroit. After a couple of years away from hockey, Klima returned in 2001-02 to captain the Czech Mens League HC Litvinov – the same place he was drafted from 20 years earlier.
Pucks and Pitchforks
By the time Klíma was 20 years old, officials on his Dukla Jihlava team knew that the Detroit Red Wings were eager to bring the young star to the NHL. Rumors were rampant that the Wings were trying to pay off Czechoslovakian authorities to get Klíma out of his native country, but despite all the hype that surrounded him, Czech hockey authorities made no real effort to clamp down and prevent Klíma from traveling in Europe.
As a result, Klíma managed to defect to North America during the summer of 1985, making him the first Czech player to defect directly to a U.S.-based team rather than one of the NHL’s Canadian teams which had smuggled several Czechs and Slovaks out of Europe in the past.
Detroit’s bold move was entirely orchestrated by the Red Wings, who knew that Klíma was eager to play in North America. After his defection was planned, Klíma ditched his Czech national teammates during a team meal at the Czech training camp in Nussdorf, West Germany, to join Wings executive vice-president Jim Lites and assistant coach Nick Polano at an undisclosed location on Aug 18, 1985.
Several days were then spent in the effort to bring Klíma to North America, after Lites and Polano, who had flown to Germany on Aug 15, 1985, kept Klíma under wraps in Nussdorf and other cities to avoid pursuit by Czech police.
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Polano stayed with Klíma as Lites and other Wings officials arranged for him to gain refugee status to enter the United States. The Wings were assisted by U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese and deputy attorney general Lowell Jensen in expediting the political-asylum process.
It was later revealed that plans to get Klíma out of Czechoslovakia reached back as far as the 1984 World Junior Championships, held in Sweden, when Detroit scout Alex Davidson secretly met with Klíma in December 1983. Klíma told Davidson he would not consider defecting until he had completed his military duty (so as not to be labeled a deserter) in 1985.
Less than a year later, at the 1984 Canada Cup, Klíma began talking to the Wings about the possibility of coming to the NHL after the 1984–85 season. During that time, while in Vancouver with the Czechoslovak team, he even signed a secret multiyear contract with the Red Wings.
Polano had brought the contract to Klíma without Czechoslovak officials realizing it. Klíma, who spoke no English when he finally arrived in Detroit on Sep 22, 1985, was fortunate that the Red Wings also managed to bring his girlfriend to the U.S. In honor of his successful defection, a grateful and overjoyed Klíma requested sweater number 85 and wore it throughout his NHL career as a reminder of the year in which he gained freedom.
– Petr Klima was traded four different times in his career
– Although he was one of Detroit’s bigger stars in the late 1980s, Petr Klíma was also a problem for the Red Wings management. That situation came to a head during training camp on Sep 23, 1988, when Detroit suspended Klíma indefinitely, along with Bob Probert, for breaking team rules. At the time of the suspension, the Wings said they would trade Klíma, although this never happened. The team also said it would not take Klíma back until he had his drinking under control. [Wikipedia]
– Petr followed in the footsteps of the Stastny brothers, who were the first Czech-born players to defect from their home country.
Moncton Wildcats Klima Brothers (Kevin): 196th Ranked North American Skater (NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings) – (Kelly): Unranked NHL Central Scouting
Only one of these twin brothers made NHL Central Scouting’s Mid-Term Rankings, but both have an opportunity to be drafted in June. Both stand 5’9 172lbs, and play very similar styles. Much like the Sedin twins, this duo is at their best when together. They’re able to make improbable passes at times based on that innate “sixth sense” twins seem to share.
Kevin and Kelly are late bloomers who made a 15-game appearance with OHL London in 2014-15. They’re now in their first full CHL season with QMJHL Moncton, and both showed improvement throughout the 2015-16 season. Don’t be surprised if an NHL team with a ton of draft picks finds a way to grab the brothers in the mid-rounds of June’s draft.
Watch Kevin Klima’s great puckhandling and poise, leading to an eventual goal.
Below is a video of Kelly Klima’s first QMJHL goal last September.
Twins Kevin and Kelly Klima are two games away from finding out if they’ve earned a place on the Moncton Wildcats hockey team.
Throughout their hockey careers, the 18-year-olds have heard a lot about the chemistry they have on the ice.
“People always say we have some sixth sense where we always know where each other are on the ice and I guess that just comes with spending time together, just knowing each other that well,” said Kelly.
Wildcats Head Coach Darren Rumble won’t go as far as saying the brothers have a paranormal connection, but he sees a value in how well they know each other.
“It’s one of the cases where you’d be nuts to split them up,” said Rumble.
2016 Draft-Eligible Prospects With NHL Bloodline’s:
*NHL family ties in parentheses
| Ty Ronning (Cliff) | Riley Stillman (Cory) | Graham McPhee (George) | Kenny Johnson (Jack) | Casey Fitzgerald (Tom) | Mathieu Sevigny (Pierre) | Luke McInnis (Marty) | Hudson Elynuik (Pat) | Ben Hawerchuk (Dale) | Hayden Verbeek (Pat) | Garrett Pilon (Rich) | Kelly and Kevin Klima (Petr) | David Quenneville (John, Joel) | Fredrik Forsberg (Filip) | Kristian Reichel (Robert) |
In 2015-16, Kevin Klima has 23 goals, 27 assists (50 points) in 52 games so far. Kelly 21 goals, 16 assists (37 points) in 58 games. Locked into a playoff spot, the Moncton Wildcats have an opportunity to do damage in the postseason, giving the Klima brothers a perfect opportunity to make a late climb up draft boards.