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Ivan Hlinka dead.

TheRob

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Czech coach Hlinka dies after accident

Canadian Press

8/16/2004


PRAGUE (CP-AP) - Ivan Hlinka, a star player who went on to build the Czech Republic's hockey program into one of the finest in the world, died Monday from injuries suffered in a car crash. He was 54.

Hlinka coached the Czech Republic to Olympic gold in 1998 and he was head coach of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000-2001.

Hlinka, who was to have coached the Czech team in the World Cup of Hockey tournament, died two days before the opening of training camp.

His car collided with a truck near Karlovy Vary, 110 kilometres west of Prague, on Sunday night and he died in hospital Monday, said national team spokesman Pavel Barta.

``Ivan Hlinka was hospitalized with serious injuries and despite all efforts he didn't survive,'' said Zdenka Markova, spokeswoman for Karlovy Vary's hospital.

Hlinka apparently went to the spa town to meet with Jaromir Jagr, the New York Rangers star who is to be a key World Cup player.

Hlinka distinguished himself on the ice as a member of Czechoslovakia's national team during the 1970s and 1980s, playing in 11 world championship tournaments including gold-medal triumphs in 1972, 1976 and 1977. Between 1970 and 1981, he scored 132 goals in 256 international games, including the 1972 and 1976 Olympics when Czechoslovakia won bronze and silver, respectively.

He was named top forward in the inaugural Canada Cup tournament in 1976. Canada edged Czechoslovakia 5-4 in the title game when Darryl Sittler scored in overtime.

Hlinka played centre for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks from 1981 to 1983, scoring 42 goals and assisting on 81 in 137 games over two seasons. He returned to Europe in 1983 and finished out his playing career with a Swiss club team before turning to coaching in 1985.

While head coach of the Czech team, Hlinka led it to two world championships and three Olympic medals in the 1990s, including the 1998 Winter Games gold.

He served as associate coach of the Penguins in 1999-2000 before assuming head-coaching duties the next season.

In 2000-2001, the season Mario Lemieux came out of retirement, Hlinka led the Penguins to a 42-28-9-3 record when he was the only European-trained coach in the NHL. Pittsburgh went to the conference final, but after a 0-4 start the following season, he was fired.

``On behalf of the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Ivan's family,'' said GM Craig Patrick, who played against Hlinka during the 1976 Canada Cup tournament. ``Ivan Hlinka was a tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey.

``He was a great hockey player, a player that many of the current Czech players idolized growing up. He brought a wealth of hockey knowledge and enthusiasm with him to the rink every day. His contributions to the Penguins' organization during his time in Pittsburgh will never be forgotten.''

Hlinka was manager of the Czech team at the 2002 Olympics, and that same year was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. In a ceremony during the 2004 world championships in Prague, Hlinka was named best Czech player of all time.

Heart trouble prompted him to step away from coaching in 2003, but he agreed to step back behind the bench for the World Cup. Vladimir Ruzicka, a former NHL player who was a good friend of Hlinka and who played for him at the 1998 Olympics, is a leading candidate to assume the World Cup coaching role.

I scooped the Article Bot!!!!!!!

:wa:
 

suburbanator

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I met him once, seemed like a nice guy taking 10 minutes to talk with me outside a Vancouver restaurant. I believe some of his family still lives here in Vancouver.


Anyhow, aweful start to the world cup of hockey.
 

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