There was a practice in the 1980s of drafting players from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in the hope that the would some day be able to play in North America. For this reason the New York Islanders drafted the Czech, David Volek, 208th in the 1984 Entry Draft.
Four years later, Volek and his fiancée were allowed to visit his parents in West Germany. It was from there that Volek contacted player agent, Rich Winter, and asked for help in defecting to the West. Winter flew to Germany to escort the couple to Edmonton. By the fall, Volek had signed with the Islanders and was set to join their lineup.
The Islanders, having lost Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin to retirement, were eager to get some scoring help for 1988-89. Volek had a fine rookie season with 25 goals and 34 assists, including seven game winners. His production slumped in his sophomore season, but he recovered for the next two terms. Unfortunately, the Islanders were expecting even more.
The 1992-93 season had Volek at odds with the team management. At the end of October, mired in a slump, he demanded a trade. It didn't help his cause when Volek tried a behind-the-back pass against Vancouver that wound up on a Canuck stick and into the Islanders goal. Yet, all was redeemed on May 15, 1993.
The Islanders made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. In the first round they lost their scoring leader, Pierre Turgeon, to a separated shoulder, courtesy of Dale Hunter, and still won the series. Unfortunately, the team drew two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins as oppnents in the next round. It wasn't until Game 3 that Volek was inserted into the lineup.
In Game 7 the teams ended regulation play tied at five. At 5:16 of overtime David Volek took a pass, from Ray Ferraro, in the right circle and fired a slap shot passed Tom Barrasso. It was Volek's biggest career moment.
The next season a herniated disk meant the end of his NHL career. Back surgery in the off-season helped but did not cure his injury, and he retired.