Miroslav Frycer

In 1980-81 much was made about the fantastic Peter and Anton Stastny. The two brothers defected from communist Czechoslovakia and became instant stars in the National Hockey League with the Quebec Nordiques.

The following year, the siblings were joined by the other brother Marian. In a separate defection, the Nordiques also managed to land 22 year old Miroslav Frycer. Of the four, only Frycer was a Czech, as the Stastny boys were Slovakian.

Frycer was having an up and down first year in Quebec. He scored 20 goals and 37 points in his first 49 games with the Nords. In his first game in Quebec City he even scored a hat trick. All that while having to adjust to a foreign world and different game.

The Nordiques didn't keep Frycer long. With the three Stastnys often playing together, Frycer was having a tough time playing with players who could communicate with him and compliment his style of play. In addition, Frycer didn't know how to say defense in either English or Czech! So, the Nords traded the young talent to Toronto for a veteran and rugged Wilf Paiement at the season's trading deadline.

In Toronto Mirko revealed moments of brilliance as he became more comfortable with life in North America. Another big factor was he was given more ice time. He displayed some nice speed and puck tricks that could have placed him among the league's elite.

Leaf fans were doubly excited in 1982-83 as the Leafs acquired another defector in Peter Ihnacak, a Slovak. Although the two never played together in their homeland, it was hoped that the two would combine to form some nice magic on the ice, as well as be each other's best friends off the ice.

While the two did share a bond off the ice, neither reached the lofty heights on it that were initially hoped for them. Part of the reason was the 1980s Leafs were among the worst teams in NHL history. Ihnacak, who was later joined by his brother Miroslav, twice scored 20 goals but was never a top offensive player. Frycer twice scored 25 goals and reached career highs with 32 goals and 75 points in 1985-86. His strong play saw him invited to the mid-season all star game.

Frycer was a frustrating enigma. He had obvious talent but no one was ever able to harness it fully. At times the popular Czech was the best player on the ice. At other times he just disappeared for long periods of time.

Following that strong 1985-86 season, Frycer was devastated with a pelvic injury that seemed to effect his skating for the remainder of his career. After brief stops in Detroit and Edmonton, Frycer left the NHL in 1989 to play a couple of season in Germany before retiring altogether.

In 415 NHL games Miroslav Frycer scored 147 goals and 330 points.


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