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Ivan Hlinka
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Hockey Player
    (January 26, 1950-August 16, 2004)
    Born in Most, Czechoslovakia
    Died in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
    Forward for the Vancouver Canucks (1981-83)
    Head coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins (2000-October 2001)
    Many mainstream hockey pundits are unaware of his European playing career prior to him joining the Canucks.
    He left the NHL after two seasons citing homesickness.
    Despite being successful at coaching in the European leagues, he struggled to adapt to the North American game.
    His refusal to learn to speak English played a key role in his firing from the Penguins four games into the 2001-02 season.
    He was speeding and not wearing a seat belt which were key factors in his death.
    He was compared to Phil Esposito during his playing career.
    He, along with Jiri Bubla, were the first Czechoslovakian stars to defect from their homeland to play in the NHL.
    He, along with Alpo Suhonen, served as the first European bred head coaches in NHL history during the 2000-01 season.
    He earned eighteen medals in Olympic and international competition in playing and coaching combined.
    Following his death, the IIHF renamed their under 18 tournament in his honor.
    He set the Canucks franchise record for most points scored by a rookie player (since tied by Pavel Bure).

Credit: Ricky

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