European Updates #6

After a short break I’m back  with the European Updates.

Today it’s gonna be about the Czech Extraliga and its playoffs and also about one famous Czechoslovak player who spent three season with Philadelphia.

Do you remember who eliminated Kladno in the Ceska Pojistovna Playoff? HC Kometa Brno. They also beat the regular season winner Sparta Prague and lastly they ran over HC Plzen 1929 led by Martin Straka along with Jaroslav Modry and Frantisek Kaberle or Jakub Kovar’s brother Jan (who plays defense, too).

Modry was only a rental who played 12 games in the regular season and he said that he has retired after the Pilsen’s elimination. Kometa is in the Final. They’re going to play against HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice. The biggest surprise of Kometa is their leading scorer — Tomas Divisek, a former Flyer who took his part in one of the previous European Updates. Petr Nedved’s Liberec was eliminated by Pardubice and he thinks about his future. There’s no certain plan or schedule, according to his recent interview. But there’s a good chance that he’ll be on the World Championship for the Czech Republic (maybe along with Jakub Kovar who could be #3 for the Czech Republic after Ondrej Pavelec and Jakub Stepanek).

Miroslav Dvorak, one of the best Czechoslovakian players who were born in Ceske Budejovice played three seasons with the Flyers in the 1980s. Miroslav started his career with Hluboka nad Vltavou (near Ceske Budejovice) where he was born on October 11, 1951.

He was moved to Motor Ceske Budejovice where he played with the other youths till his 18th birthday. Then he played for the main team of Budejovice and he was nominated on the World Junior Championship in 1970 held in Sweden where he won the Best defensemen award. He played another two seasons with Budejovice and then Miroslav started his national service in Jihlava which brought him into a military hockey club called Dukla Jihlava. After that he moved back to Budejovice where he wore the “C” after previous captain Josef Partl.

In 1982 the Communist regime allowed him to leave Budejovice for Philadelphia. There was a rule that nobody could play outside Czechoslovakian Republic until his 30. This rule was applied for numerous sportsmen (including famous footballer Antonin Panenka) and its purpose tends to regulate sportsmen career in their prime. They had to stay in the country. Dvorak was selected by the Flyers in the third round, 46th overall, in the 1982 NHL Draft.

courtesy of Photobucket

He spent three seasons with the Flyers. In the first one Flyers were eliminated by the Rangers in the first round, and in the last one the Flyers lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals. He played against his best friend, another Czechoslovak (and Budejovice) legend Jaroslav Pouzar. Brad Marsh was one of his closest friends, too. Marsh came to the Czech Republic once to visit him. Dvorak’s strengths lay in his defensive abilities and he could set up the offense.

He left professional ice hockey for good in 1989 and went back to Ceske Budejovice. Dvorak became the first player who came to the World Championship from the NHL which was very rare in the 80’s. Miroslav Dvorak died at the age of 56 on June 12, 2008. His family played a famous composer Antonin Dvorak New World Symphony at the funeral.

Career stats and medals
1976, 1977 – Gold Medalist, World Championship
1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983 – Silver Medalist, World Championship
1976, 1981 – participant in the Canada Cup
1976, 1980 – participant in the Winter Olympic Games
13 seasons in the Czechoslovakian League
228 games for the Czechoslovakia (15 goals)