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Jaroslav Jirik

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Jaroslav Jirik
Position Right wing
5 ft 11 in (1.8 m)
170 lb (77 kg)
Teams St. Louis Blues
Nationality Flag of Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakian
Born December 10, 1939,
Brno, TCH
Died August 8, 2011 (age 71),
Brno, Czech Republic
Pro Career 1957 – 1975
Olympic medal record
Ice hockey
Silver 1968 Grenoble Men
Bronze 1964 Innsbruck Men

Jaroslav "Brambor Potato" Jiřík (born December 10, 1939 in Brno, Czechoslovakia - died August 8, 2011 near Brno)[1] is a former professional ice hockey right winger. He became the first player from an Eastern Bloc country to play in the National Hockey League[2][3] when he appeared in three games with the St. Louis Blues in the 1969–70 season.

Jiřík played seventeen seasons in the Czechoslovak Extraliga, scoring 300 goals in 450 games.[2] Jiřík was named an all-star at the 1965 World Ice Hockey Championships,[4] and he was a member of the Czechoslovak national team that won the bronze medal at the 1964 Winter Olympics and the silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics.[5]

Jiřík was first noticed by St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Cliff Fletcher in 1969. Fletcher actually signed three Czechoslovak players: Jiřík, Jan Havel, and Josef Horešovský, all of whom were given permission to transfer to North America by the Czechoslovak government. However, the government changed its mind about Havel and Horesovský, because they were still in their twenties. Jiřík, 30 at the time, was the only player allowed to go.[3]

Jiřík spent most of the 1969–70 season with St. Louis's minor-league affiliate, the Kansas City Blues of the Central Hockey League. He played well in Kansas City, scoring 35 points in 53 games.[1] St. Louis called him up late in the season, and he played three games with the club, going scoreless. He was invited to remain with the organization for the 1970–71 season; however, Jiřík decided to return to Czechoslovakia instead.[3]

He died on August 8, 2011, when the small plane he was piloting crashed near Brno. He was 71.


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