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Ivan Hlinka

Born on January 26, 1950 in Most, Czechoslovakia. Hlinka honed his skills with his Czech Elite League club team Litvinov from 1968 to 1981, with a brief appearance for Dukla Trencin in 1978. Throughout those years, Hlinka amassed 347 goals in 479 league games. From there, his career changed paths and Hlinka starred for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks for two seasons (1981-83) where he tallied 45 goals in 153 games, including the playoffs. In 1983, Hlinka returned to Europe, and played two more seasons with Zug in Switzerland. Hlinka also enjoyed a successful career with the national team, where he suited up for 256 games and scored 132 goals for Czechoslovakia. This included 11 straight IIHF World Championship tournaments from 1970 to 1981, during which he led the Czechs to three titles - 1972, 1976 and 1977, to go along with five silver and three bronze World Championship medals. A tournament all-star in the 1978 tournament, Hlinka also played in the 1976 Canada Cup. Hlinka's medal collection also includes Olympic medals from 1972, a bronze, and a silver in 1976. With his experience, a coaching career was a natural progression, which began in with his old club Litvinov in 1985 and later Freiburg in Germany. During the 1990's, Hlinka coached during six IIHF World Championship tournaments, winning one gold and four bronze, to go along with two Olympic medals including the gold in 1998. After joining the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL in February of 2000, Hlinka would later become just the second European head coach at the start of the 2000-01 NHL season.

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