Miroslav Dvorak was a rock hard square built defenseman who did not make his NHL debut until he was 31 years old in 1982. That's when the Czechoslovakian Ice Hockey Federation made him available for the Flyers.
Miroslav was a tough defenseman who was very hard to get by. He excelled in one on one situations and was excellent positionally. Miroslav played the body very well but he didn't pick up many penalties. He was aggressive but not stupid.
Miroslav was born in Hluboka nad Vltavou in 1951. His father was a waiter who worked many years in France. Miroslav's brother Pavel was an excellent soccer player. When Pavel was 17 many experts predicted that he would become a star forward in Czechoslovakian soccer. But a tragic accident put a stop to that. One day he jumped into very shallow water, ruptured his spleen and eventually died of his injuries.
Miroslav started playing hockey when he was eight at Munický Rybnik in Hluboka. When he was 14 he started playing for Motor Ceske Budejovice, a club he played for 16 seasons. (1965-72,74-82 and 87-88) He also played two seasons for the army club Dukla Jihlava (1972-74). His other clubs included Philadelphia Flyers (1982-85) , and German clubs Kassel (1985-87) and Essen (1987-88).
When he played in Philadelphia his play was highly appreciated by the Philadelphia organization. In 1983-84 he was named as the team's top defenseman. The popular teammate nicknamed "Cookie" also got to play in the Stanley Cup finals in 1985 where Philadelphia lost in six games to Edmonton.
He spoke no English when he first arrived in Philadelphia. Defense partner Brad Marsh took him under his wing both on and off the ice.
On the ice Dvorak was a complete pro. Miroslav worked very hard and was always in top shape. In Budejovice his longtime defensive partner was Milan Chalupa, who played briefly for Detroit in the mid 1980's. Both were also longtime defensive partners on the national team.
Off the ice Dvorak worked hard to fit in with his teammates. He was very sociable, funny and popular with his teammates, fitting in memorably.
Miroslav played in 9 world championships as well as two Canada Cups. He made the second All-Star team in the 1982 world championships and was voted the best defenseman in the 1981-82 Izvestija tournament. He was also voted second in the competition for Czechoslovakia's "Golden Stick Award", given to the player of the year.
All in all Miroslav played 509 league games in Czechoslovakia, scoring 79 goals. He played 228 games in the national team jersey, scoring 14 goals.
This unspectacular but very steady blueliner became a hotel and restaurant owner in southern Czech Republic after his playing career was over.
Dvorak passed away at the age of 56 on June 11th, 2008. He had throat cancer.
Special thanks to Patrick Houda