Monday

Jaroslav Pouzar

When Jaroslav Pouzar was brought over to the Edmonton Oilers from his native Czechoslovakia, much fanfare was made about the Oiler's newest gunner.

Pouzar came over in 1982, and was expected to finally fill the whole on Wayne Gretzky's and Jari Kurri's left wing.

"When he came over in 1982, they made a big deal out of it in Edmonton, boasting they had brought in this great, strong left winger from Czechoslovakia who was going to score 50 goals with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri" said Gretzky.

However there was a small problem. Pouzar, who was a veteran of international hockey at age 30, had trouble adapting to the Oilers style of play, which differed greatly from his many years of training in Czechoslovakia.

"I always tell people that Jaroslav Pouzar brought the left-wing lock to the NHL" jokes Gretzky. "With the Oilers we always forechecked the first two guys in, the third guy high. This guy (Pouzar) came to our team, and we had no sense of where he was going to be. It took us 40 or 50 games to realize that the reason he was in the positions he was in was that he was playing in a Czechoslovakian left-wing lock. It took us a whole year to catch on to this!"

Pouzar also had tremendous difficulty adjusting to North American life as well. He spoke next to no English and was undoubtedly homesick for much of his stay in the NHL.

That first year in the league Pouzar, who Gretzky described as "the physically strongest player I ever played with," scored 15 goals and 33 points. He had a similar season in 1983-84 when he chipped in 13 goals and 32 points before an injury plagued 1984-85 season limited him to just 4 goals and 12 assists in 33 games.

Pouzar returned to Europe for the 1985-86 season, playing in Germany, where he would stay until finishing his career some 6 years later.

Pouzar did make a brief reappearance in the NHL in 1987. At the completion of the German League schedule, Pouzar rejoined the Oilers for their Cup run. He played in 12 games plus 5 more in the playoffs.

All told, Pouzar played in 186 games scoring 34 goals and 82 points, while playing in 29 playoff contests, earning 6 goals, 10 points and 3 Stanley Cup championships. Add to that a legendary pre-NHL career in Czechoslovakia including 6 World Championship appearances, 2 Canada Cups, and 2 Olympic tournaments.

Pouzar would return to the Czech Republic in retirement and remain active in various hockey posts. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004.

It's too bad that Jaroslav didn't have an opportunity to come overseas earlier in his career. He was a special talent who we didn't get to see enough of to truly appreciate.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  4:37 AM  

I´m proud to saw him for two years in Iserlohn/Germany.
He´s a wonderful human a one of the best tecnically adeptest players i´ve ever saw in life.
I hope he win his last fight with Leukemia !!!

Ralf Nowaczek 3:28 AM  

Jaroslav Pouzar
This is a world class player for me. After his second year, 1986/87 in the ECD (result after the end of the main draws was the sixth place and thus a play-off match against the Düsseldorf EC, then went out for 3-0 DEG), he went for the final stage and the play -off from the NHL back to Edmonton and promptly won a third time the Stanley Cup. With Wayne Gretzky Mark Messier Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr., The is a world class player.

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