Ivan Hlinka, a former Pittsburgh Penguins coach who led the Czech Republic to a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, died yesterday after being injured in a car crash. He was 54.
Hlinka's car collided with a truck late Sunday night near Karlovy Vary, about 70 miles west of Prague. He was taken to a hospital, where he died, according to a spokesman.
"Ivan Hlinka was hospitalized with serious injuries and despite all efforts he didn't survive," hospital spokeswoman Zdenka Markova said, adding that Hlinka's most serious injuries were to his rib cage.
Hlinka was reappointed Czech coach in May, and was set to lead the team at the World Cup of Hockey later this month.
He coached the Penguins in 2001, taking them to the third round of the playoffs. He had a 42-32-9 record with the team before being replaced four games into the 2001-02 season.
In a statement, Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick called Hlinka a "tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey."
"He was a great hockey player, a player that many of the current Czech players idolized growing up," Patrick said. "He brought a wealth of hockey knowledge and enthusiasm with him to the rink everyday."
-- From News Services