Miroslav Frycer, who defected from Czechoslovakia to play in NHL, dead at 61

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Miroslav Frycer, who defected from Czechoslovakia to play eight seasons in the NHL, has died. He was 61.

Czech league team Orli Znojmo, where Frycer had been head coach since 2018, said on its website Tuesday that Frycer died after an unspecified brief illness.

Frycer had overcome health problems in the past. He chronicled his recovery from a liver transplant in his autobiography "My Wild Hockey Life."

Frycer, who represented Czechoslovakia at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., defected from the communist country and joined the Quebec Nordiques for the 1981-82 NHL season.

He was traded to Toronto during his rookie campaign and went on to play six more seasons with the Maple Leafs. He represented Toronto at the 1985 all-star game in Calgary.

He had his most productive offensive season in 1985-86, when he had 32 goals and 43 assists in 73 games with the Leafs.

"The Maple Leafs organization is deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Miroslav Frycer," the team posted on its Twitter account Tuesday.

"A life dedicated to the game, Miroslav played seven seasons in the blue and white, and is still amongst the Leafs top 50-point scorers of all-time. Our thoughts are with his family."

Frycer had 147 goals and 183 assist in 330 NHL games with Quebec, Toronto, Detroit and Edmonton.

After his NHL career Frycer played two seasons in Germany and another in Italy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press