The international hockey world has lost one of its icons. Former Czech star Vladimir Zabrodsky has passed away at the age of 97. He had been living in Sweden since 1965 when he emigrated from then-communist Czechoslovakia. Sportsnet was first to report the story.
Vladimir Zabrodsky, one of the best Czech hockey players in history has died. He was 97.https://t.co/YjKWIH0Y7N
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 20, 2020
Vladimir Zabrodsky Has Passed Away
Zabrodsky never made it to the NHL but was one of the world’s best players during his playing days. The centre helped the Czechs win silver at the 1948 Winter Olympics in Switzerland and captained two other championship squads in international events. He would ultimately play in 94 matches for the Czech national team before leaving the country.
He was a skilled scorer in both international and domestic play. Scoring 158 goals internationally and 306 on top of that playing in the Czechoslovak League. His era of play made it almost impossible for him to reach North America and the NHL. Tensions between the West and Communist blocs in the ’40s and 50s, coupled with the general sentiment that Europeans were unsuitable for the NHL, kept a player of Zabrodsky’s talent abroad. The first Czech-born player didn’t enter the league until 1959 when Stan Mikita suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1959 according to Hockey Reference.
Vladimir Zabrodsky leaves the world as one of the great Czechs to ever play professional hockey. The country has produced many amazing players like Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek but it was players like Zabrodsky they would have known growing up. He was inducted into the IIHF’s Hall of Fame in 1997. That induction is a strong reflection of his contributions to the game of hockey.
Zabrodsky also stands out as a two-sport contributor. He also lived within the world of Tennis and even contributed to strong Davis Cup runs in the late 1940s and early 1950s. That is an astounding feat that should be celebrated on its own.