PRAGUE — Jaroslav Pitner, the former national team coach for Czechoslovakia, who helped direct emotionally charged wins over the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, has died at 83.
His former club, Dukla Jihlava, announced his death on Friday, March 20. Pitner coached Dukla 1958-1982, winning eight national championships in that period.
Nicknamed the General of Ice Hockey, Pitner coached his countrymen from 1966 to 1973, taking them to the IIHF World Championship title in Prague in 1972. The Czechoslovakian victory, only four years after the Soviet-led Warsaw-Pact invasion, was fifth on the IIHF’s list of the 100 Top Ice Hockey Stories of the Century, which was produced in conjunction with the IIHF’s Centennial in 2008.
The win in 1972 broke Soviet Union’s world-record nine consecutive World ice hockey titles.
Under Pitner’s leadership, the Czechoslovakian team also earned a silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France, and a bronze medal in the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Pitner’s greatest achievement was the development of a defensive system that allowed Czechoslovakia to record numerous victories over the rival Soviet Union, which was widely considered unbeatable at the time.
Czechoslovakia beat the Soviet team, 2-0 and 4-3, during the 1969 IIHF World Championships in Stockholm, the year after the Soviet Union had sent troops into Czechoslovakia.
Those games, which are listed 18th on IIHF’s Top-100 list, were arguably the most emotionally charged international games ever played.
Pitner ended his coaching career with Skoda Plzen in 1991.
- with files from AFP and Tages-Anzeiger