Milos Holan's promising hockey career was abruptly ended when he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1995.
The Philadelphia Flyers 3rd round pick in 1993 (77th overall), Holan was a devastating power play specialist with his booming shot and quarterbacking point abilities. The 5'11" defenseman scored an amazing 33 goals in 53 games in the Czech league in 1992-93, enough to earn him the title of Czech player of the year, and to get him noticed by NHL scouts. He was 22 by the time he was drafted, being passed over previously because of his lack of size and defensive play.
Holan jumped to North America for the 1993-94 season but battled nagging injuries and adaptation to North American lifestyle. He did put up decent numbers in 27 games with the Flyer's AHL affiliate - 7 goals and 22 points in just 27 games. He also got a cup of coffee with the Flyers, playing in 8 games and scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.
Holan was returned to the AHL in 1994-95 to work on his defensive game. He proved to be an outstanding power play defenseman that year, scoring an impressive 22 goals and 27 assists in 55 games with the Hershey Bears. Despite his great play at the minor league level, the Flyers dismissed Holan due to his lack of size and his one dimensional play. He was traded to Anaheim in exchange for veteran Anatoli Semenov on March 8, 1995.
Holan finished the year in the NHL with the Ducks, scoring 2 goals and 8 assists for 10 points.
During a routine physical with the Ducks medical staff, Milos was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia. However he would need a life-saving bone marrow transplant soon. A suitable donor wasn't found for 4 months. Despite facing possible death, Milos started the season with the Ducks, scoring 2 goals and 4 points in 16 games.
Once a donor was found, Holan suffered through the horrible surgery and follow-up complications which included problems with his heart, kidney and gall bladder. In all, Holan was left hospitalized for 8 months and lost 60 pounds.
"Every day I was so sick that I felt the next day would be my last," Holan remembered.
However Holan was determined to get stronger. Once he regained his strength and health, Holan began focusing on playing hockey again.
Holan returned to his native Czech Republic for part of a season before accepting a try-out offer with the Mighty Ducks in 1998. Perhaps nothing more than a ceremonial invite to gain media attention, Holan was quickly cut, not even getting a chance to play in an exhibition game. He received a second try-out offer, this time in 1999 with the expansion Atlanta Thrashers. This time he did get into a couple of exhibition games, but clearly wasn't the same player he used to be, and was subsequently cut.
No hard feelings for Holan though, who considers himself to be the luckiest guy on the planet as he plays with his young children.
"I don't need anything else. I'm the happiest man on Earth, just to be here with my family and be healthy."
There will be no more try-outs for Milos. He said the Thrashers would be his last shot at returning to hockey and has planned to return to the Czech Republic and to turn to coaching the game he loves in his hometown of Ostrava.