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Former Detroit Red Wing, Czech defector Miroslav Frycer dead at age 61

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The former Red Wing Miroslav Frycer, who left communist Czechoslovakia after the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, has died. He was 61 years old.

Frycer died after an unspecified brief illness, said the Czech league team Orli Znojmo on its website on Tuesday. Frycer has been the team’s coach since 2018.

Frycer had overcome health problems in the past. In his autobiography “My Wild Hockey Life” he recorded his recovery from a liver transplant.

After leaving Czechoslovakia, Frycer moved to Quebec Nordiques for the 1981/82 NHL season. The 6-0 striker, weighing 200 pounds, traded to Toronto during his rookie campaign and played with the Maple Leafs for six more seasons.

His most productive offensive season was 1985-86, when he scored 32 goals and 43 assists in 73 games for Toronto and played in the 1985 All-Star game.

The Maple Leafs traded Frycer to Detroit on June 10, 1988 for defense attorney Darren Veitch. In his first game at Maple Leaf Gardens on December 10, 1988, Frycer had two goals against his former teammates. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman had one goal and three assists against the Maple Leafs in that game.

In 23 games under Detroit’s coach Jacques Demers, Frycer had seven goals and eight assists for 15 points and was 47 minutes penalty minus 4. On January 3, 1989, Frycer was handed over to the Edmonton Oilers against a 10th round draft pick (Rick Judson) exchanged.

The Maple Leafs praised Frycer on Twitter for “a game-dedicated life” and “seven seasons of blue and white.”

Frycer was born on September 27, 1959 in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, and remains one of the top 50-point goalscorers in Toronto. He had 147 goals and 183 assists in 330 NHL games. After his NHL career, Frycer played two seasons in Germany and another in Italy.

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Dusty Kennedy