Petr Hejma

The player on the right is Petr Hejma. (Otto Schneitberger stands on the left).

Peter Hejma was a promising Czech player who helped his country win the silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics. He would have been a mainstay on the national team for years to come. But just months after the Olympics he fled his home, leaving everything behind.

Hejma defected to West Germany on September 15, 1968 when his team, Sparta Prague, played against Düsseldorf in Germany. He would star in the German league for many years where he scored 639 points in 432 games between 1970 and 1981.

Hejma did have to wait 18 months before resuming his hockey career in Germany. The Czech authorities secured an 18 month IIHF suspension prohibiting Hejma from playing anywhere in Europe.

Interestingly, the Detroit Red Wings invited Hejma to their training camp in 1969. They also invited Finn Veli-Pekka Ketola and Swede Lennart Svedberg. None of them signed a contract or made the team.

Petr's wife Marta Hejma-Luzova, a noted table tennis player, was allowed to leave Czechoslovakia in 1970, reuniting the couple. They had a son, Petr Jr., who also went on to be a professional hockey player in Germany.

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