Czech Republic mourns the death of hockey legend Ivan Hlinka
The Czech Republic is mourning the death of a great hockey player and coach, Ivan Hlinka, who passed away Monday. He died when his car collided with a truck just outside Karlovy Vary in Western Bohemia.
On the road to gold the Czech Republic skilfully defeated teams such as Canada and Russia. Much of their success was attributed to Hlinka, who patiently held the Czech team together - even through the nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out at the end of the semi-final against Canada.
Vladimir Macholda played on the ice with Ivan Hlinka for a number of years in Litvinov, he is currently the general manager of the club. He had these fond words for his teammate and friend.
"We played together for a long time in Litvinov. He was a person who wanted to do everything to win. He loved to play every game and it didn't matter to him what the game was for. I think he was a good person and a good friend of mine. It is very difficult for me to talk about him because he passed away so recently."
Hlinka was one of the first players from Czechoslovakia to make the move to the NHL. In 1981 he joined the Vancouver Canucks, where he still holds the title for most points scored by a rookie - with 60. In two years in the NHL Hlinka scored 42 goals and 81 assists in 137 games.
After 1987 Hlinka began coaching. He brought the Czech national team two world championships and three Olympic medals in the 1990s. He would return to the NHL as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000. His winning record for that season is third in the Penguins' history.
"I think it is one of the biggest names in Czech hockey. His stature and charisma can not be compared to today. People will remember him as a hockey player, a coach, and a friend... he will be remembered very well. You can't come close it describing him, simply, he was a great person. He really liked people and the game of hockey, there are very few people like Ivan Hlinka."