*26. 1. 1950 – †16. 8. 2004
Ivan Hlinka was born on the 26 January, 1950 in Most, in what was then Czechoslovakia, and became famous as a hockey player in the 1970s. During his career he won 11 medals from the World Championships and two medals from the Olympic Games. He also in the NHL. After his active career, he became a coach and led the Czech national team to the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. It was the first and so far only Olympic men's ice hockey triumph for the Czech Republic.
Hlinka had started his career as a hockey player in Litvínov at the age of six. By the time he was 16, he was already playing for the club's A team and it was only a short time later that he started to play for the national team. With Team Czechoslovakia he won his first ever medal, a bronze, at the 1970 World Championship in Stockholm and later won gold medals in 1972 in Prague, 1976 in Katowice and 1977 in Vienna. At the Winter Olympics, he won a bronze in Sapporo in 1972 and then a silver in Innsbruck in 1976.
In 1981, as a part of special contract, he was drafted by the NHL's Winnipeg Jets. However, he was then dealt to the Vancouver Canucks where he played in 153 games over two seasons, recording 136 points and playing in the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals. He then returned to Europe in 1983 to play two years with Swiss club EV Zug, before finishing his playing career with two more seasons back home in Litvinov as a player-assistant coach.
Immediately after retiring as an active player in 1987, he became head coach of the Litvinov team, where he remained until 2000, except for one season in Freiburg, Germany. In February of 2000 he left the post in Litvínov for the NHL again. There he was first an assistant coach and later head coach for the Pittsburgh Pengiuns. After being replaced midway through the 2001-02 season, his final full-time coaching job with a club was with Avangard Omsk in Russia in 2002-03.
In 2004, it was announced that Hlinka would return to coach the Czech national team one last time. However, on 16 August, 2004, Hlinka died in a car accident.