International Ice Hockey Federation

Jaroslav Holik passes away

Jaroslav Holik passes away

Legend led Czechoslovakia to gold in 1972

Published 18.04.2015 06:40 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Jaroslav Holik was a fighter who never gave up. He fought on the ice.

He was a rebel symbolically fighting against Soviet oppression in his country on the ice by once even covering the communist star on the Czechoslovak crest on his jersey with tape.

But Holik also fought a battle he eventually couldn’t win. After a long illness he passed away at the age of 72 in the night from Thursday to Friday.

Holik was a legend in his country, first as a forward, later as a coach. Born in Havlickuv Brod, Holik moved – or rather was moved – to the more prestigious army team Dukla Jihlava at the age of 19, and when he was 22 he played his first World Championship. He represented his country in seven IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and in the 1972 Olympic Winter Games.

He was on the team that beat the Soviet Union twice at the World Championship in 1969 – the first big international ice hockey event after a Soviet-led invasion in Czechoslovakia to silence the revolt against the system – in emotionally charged games. The Soviet Red Machine just wanted to play hockey but the Czechoslovaks made it obvious in every shift that it was more than just a game.

But most fans who followed hockey in that era will remember Holik for scoring the game-winning goal against the Soviets in the 1972 World Championship when Czechoslovakia wrote history. The Soviet Union had won every World Championship and Olympic ice hockey tournament between 1963 and 1972. But when the event was held on home ice in Prague, it was Holik who scored the game-winning goal in the 3-2 victory over the Soviet Union en route to a historic gold medal.

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Holik won a medal in six of the seven World Championships, one gold, two silver and three bronze. He also won an Olympic bronze in Sapporo 1972 and seven national championships with Dukla Jihlava.

When he was 36 he hung up his skates but remained with Dukla Jihlava where he worked several years as an assistant coach and later as a head coach to win additional national titles. He was also coaching the Czech U20 national team at four IIHF World Junior Championships winning back-to-back gold in 2000 and 2001.

Even at his late age the Czech Hall of Fame member was involved in hockey as honorary president of his hometown club Rebel Havlickuv Brod that plays in the second-tier league.

Holik is survived by a big hockey family. His son Bobby Holik played internationally for Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and spent 18 seasons in the NHL winning two Stanley Cups.

His daughter Andrea Holikova was a tennis player who the Wimbledon junior tournament in 1985. She married another former hockey player, Frantisek Musil, and their sons continue the hockey legacy. Jaroslav Holik’s grandson David Musil played two World Juniors for the Czechs and his first NHL games for the Edmonton Oilers this season while his younger grandson Adam Musil plays junior hockey in the WHL.


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