Miroslav Frycer, Czech defector who played eight NHL seasons, dead at 61

Miroslav Frycer, who played in the NHL for eight seasons after defencting from Czechoslovakia, has died. He was 61. (Krzywon Dan/CTK via AP)

Miroslav Frycer, who defected from Czechoslovakia and spent most of his eight seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, has died. He was 61.

He died after an unspecified brief illness, the Czech league team Orli Znojmo said on its website Tuesday. Frycer had been the team's coach since 2018.

Frycer had overcome health problems in the past. He chronicled his recovery from a liver transplant in his autobiography, ``My Wild Hockey Life.''

Frycer, a forward, also played for Quebec, Detroit and Edmonton in the NHL. He represented Czechoslovakia at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. After defecting from communist Czechoslovakia he joined the Quebec Nordiques for the 1981-82 NHL season. He was traded to Toronto during his rookie campaign and went on to play six more seasons there. He represented the Maple Leafs at the 1985 All-Star game.

His most productive offensive season came in 1985-86, when he had 32 goals and 43 assists in 73 games with Toronto.

The Maple Leafs lauded him on Twitter for a ``life dedicated to the game'' and his ``seven seasons in the blue and white.''

He remains among the team's career top 50-point scorers. Frycer had 147 goals and 183 assists in 330 NHL games. After his NHL career, he played two seasons in Germany and another in Italy.

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