PRAGUE - After a long NHL career forward Martin Rucinsky has said goodbye to the ‘big league’ and decided it's time to go home. The 37-year old joins Czech giants Sparta Prague.
Rucinsky appeared on the radar in the early 90s after putting up great numbers in the Czech league with HC Litvinov. An impressive 1991 World Junior Championship campaign sealed his place among the NHL scouts. The winger posted nine goals and five assists in seven games, captured the bronze medal and was named on the tournament’s All-Star team . His performance led to him being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft the same year.
He needed little seasoning in North America and made the NHL in his first season abroad. In total, Rucinsky appeared in nearly 1000 games, wearing the sweaters of the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and finally the St. Louis Blues. He had his best years in Montreal where combined for 171 points in three seasons.
The one-time NHL All-Star game participant came off an injury-riddled season last year in which he was limited to just 40 games.
On the international stage, Rucinsky was a member of the gold winning Olympic Czech hockey team in Nagano 1998. Eight years later he won bronze in Torino.
In Prague, the veteran is the next big-name signing this summer. Earlier, the team announced the arrival of young goaltender Tomas Popperle and David Vyborny (both from the Columbus Blue Jackets). Furthermore, the team saw forwards Michal Bros, Ondrej Kratena and Jakub Koreis return from Finland. The investments came after Sparta Prague saw a two-year reign come to an end at the expense of city rivals Slavia, who won the Czech Extraliga last season. Sparta itself was eliminated after being swept by HC Liberec in the quarterfinals.