In the 1970s Team Czechoslovakia was a serious challenge to the powerful Soviets for international hockey supremacy. They were led by their great defenseman, Frantisek Pospisil.
Pospisil, along with regular partner Oldrich Machac, was the anchor of the team's defense from 1967 through 1977. In that time he aided CSSR to three World Championship gold medals, two strong showings at the Olympics (bronze in 1972, silver in 1976) and second place at the 1976 Canada Cup. Twice he was named top defenseman at the World Championships.
Domestically Pospisil starred with Poldi Kladno, pairing with Frantisek Kaberle Sr., from 1961 through 1978. Twice he won the Golden Stick award as the best player in all of Czechoslovakia, a rare accomplishment for a defenseman. He scored 134 career goals in 622 league games. Kladno won four league championships during Pospisil's reign.
Pospisil was blessed good size and great strength. He was a feared physical player in international hockey player, though he always played cleanly. He relied primarily on hockey smarts and positional defense. He contributed nicely to the offensive, primarily as a playmaker, as was the norm in those days.
"I was never a great skater. I never had the right speed. Therefore I tried to think quickly. I adhered to the principle that a pass is quicker than a player," he was quoted as saying in the excellent book, The Kings of the Ice.
Controversy swirled around Pospisil at the 1976 Olympics when drug testing found him guilty of using the banned substance codeine. Pospisil admitted he was taking codeine in order to fight off a flu that had spread through the Olympic village. As a result of the failed test, Czechoslovakia had to forfeit their game against Poland, rescinding the 7-1 victory they achieved earlier in the night. The forfeit cost the Czechoslovaks any hope of the gold medal. Pospisil was allowed to continue playing.
Inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1999, Pospisil also enjoyed a lengthy career as a coach.
Did You Know? A couple of days after Canada famously defeated the Soviets in game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series, Canada travelled to Czechoslovakia to play a "friendly" game against their national team.
Somebody forgot to tell Bobby Clarke it was a friendly game. He infamously butt-ended Frantisek Pospisil in the face. The video is now widely available, thanks to YouTube: