Ontario Hockey League grad Branko Radivojevic is heading back to his home country of Slovakia. After starting the year with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the Russia based KHL, Branko was released then picked up two days later by HC Slovan Bratislava. He has been in the KHL since its inception for the 2008-09 season, evolving from the Russian Super League (RSL).
Branko played three years in the OHL from 1998-99 to 2000-01, all with the Belleville Bulls. He was the 49th pick by Belleville at the 1998 CHL Import Draft. In his rookie year, Radivojevic contributed 24 points over 21 playoff games as the Bulls won the Robertson Cup championship.
In his final year in the Ontario Hockey League, Branko scored 34 goals and assisted on 70 for 104 points over just 61 regular season games. He placed third in the league for assists behind Belleville teammate Kyle Wellwood and Jason Spezza, who played for the Mississauga IceDogs and Windsor Spitfires. He also placed behind both of those two players in the race for the Eddie Powers Trophy. However, he was the highest scoring right winger and won the descriminating Jim Mahon Trophy.
At the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Radivojevic was taken in the third round by the Colorado Avalanche, 93rd overall. He never played for Colorado but did appear in 399 NHL regular season games between 2001-02 and 2007-08 with the Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild. He was part of a big trade on February 9, 2004 that sent him, along with Sean Burke and Ben Eager from the Coyotes to the Flyers, in exchange for Mike Comrie.
Radivojevic has been in the KHL since 2008-09, playing previous to 2013-14 with Spartak Moskva and Atlant Mytishchi. He was team captain of Spartak in 2010-11 and 2012-13. This season, he started with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, playing 14 games before being released. HC Slovan Bratislava was quick to pick him up.
There’s a chance Branko will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics for Slovakia. He has represented his country well since appearing at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2000. Since, he has played for Slovakia at the 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 World Championships, winning bronze in 2003 and silver in 2012. Radivojevic was a team member at the 2010 Olympic Games held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
HC Slovan Bratislava
Bratislava is in their second year in the KHL after coming over from the Slovakia Extraliga. Between 1997-98 and 2011-12, Slovan was Extraliga champions eight times. Things haven’t been so good in the KHL. So far in 2013-14, Bratislava sits 13th out of 14 teams in the Western Conference.
Radivojevic joins two other Ontario Hockey League grads on Slovan. Jaroslav Janus is in net. He played three years in the OHL from 2007-08 to 2009-10 with the Erie Otters. This is Janus’s second year with the team. Martin Skoula played two years with the Barrie Colts, 1997-98 and 1998-99. This is his first year with Bratislava.
HC Slovan plays home games at the Slovnaft Arena, a 10,059 seat venue in Bratislava, Slovakia that was opened in 1940.