Fresh Prince Vrbata

Now, this is a story all about how
Radim Vrbata’s English got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how Vrbata learned from the prince of a town called Bel Air

In early November, Vrbata and Daniel Sedin visited Lord Selkirk Elementary School in Vancouver to help launch Hockey Scholar, a new hockey-themed educational course as part of the NHL & NHLPA Future Goals Program.

Neither Sedin or Vrbata has English as their first language; Daniel is from Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, and speaks Swedish, while Radim hails from Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic, so he speaks Czech.

In discussing the Hockey Scholar program, I asked both about what they think of using technology in the classroom, something foreign to them not as foreigners, but because they’re in their mid-30s. They walked uphill to and from school, in the snow, and used an abacus in math class. Oh and everything was in black and white.

Anyways, discussing how and when they both learned English, Daniel said it was part of the curriculum and very emphasized, whereas Radim said it wasn’t as widespread or stressed.

When Vrbata came to Canada as a 17-year-old, his English was sparse at best. He had the communication skills of a tourist: where’s the washroom, how much does this cost, etc. Thankfully for Vrbata, Will Smith had his back.

Every day at home after game day skate or practice, and as much as he could on the road, Vrbata tuned in to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a sitcom about a wealthy Californian family that takes in a relative from Philadelphia. The show, which ran from 1990-1996 and made Smith a household name, was actually over when Vrbata picked it up, but reruns were all the rage back in the day.

He watched and he learned. And his English improved daily. His confidence grew and next thing Vrbata knew, he was chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool.

With the Canucks in Philadelphia to face the Flyers Thursday, we decided to test Vrbata’s Fresh Prince knowledge with a 10 questions quiz. It’s been a while since he last caught up with Will, Philip, Carlton, Hilary, Ashley, Vivian (both of them), Nicky, Geoffrey and Jazz, they’re long gone, but to him never forgotten.


Anyone born in the early 80s, like myself, knows The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air inside out. The Banks family invited us into their home daily and produced some of the funniest TV moments ever.

For those of you who missed out, maybe Netflix will wise up and make it available in the near future. If so, watch and learn. It’s gold!

Breath mints…breath mints…breath mints, breath mints, BREATH MINTS!!!


Derek (@NoJoryous)

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