Petr Klima, first NHL player to leave Czech Republic, dies at 58


May 5, 2023 | 11:05 a.m.

Former NHL star and Stanley Cup champion Petr Klima has died aged 58.

Klima was found dead, unexpectedly, in his home in the town of Chomutov in his native Czechia, the Czech Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed.

Klima is perhaps best known for scoring the winning goal in triple overtime in Game 1 of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals to give the Oilers a 3-2 win over the Bruins.

Former Stanley Cup champion Petr Klima has been found unexpectedly dead at his home in the Czech Republic.
Getty Images

The Oilers will win the championship in five games.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Oilers Petr Klima and extend our condolences to his family and all loved ones,” the Oilers tweeted.

The cause of death is not yet known.

“The NHL mourns the passing of Czech legend Petr Klima, who scored 313 goals in 13 NHL seasons,” the NHL said in a statement.

“Klima helped the Oilers win the 1990 Stanley Cup while scoring a memorable triple overtime winner in Game 1 of the Finals. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends and many fans. »

In 1985, Klima became the first hockey player to leave the communist Czech Republic for North America, as the Red Wings hatched a scheme to get him out of the country.

“He [Klima] was crossing the border,” former Red Wings scout Ken Holland said years ago, describing the defection, according to the Detroit News.

Petr Klima played for the Red Wings in 1987.
Getty Images North America

“[Wings executive Nick] Polano was there [in the Czech Republic] and he established contacts and finally these people made Klima desert. So they put Klima in a fake safe and they crossed the border.

Klima scored 313 goals and had 260 assists during a career that spanned from 1985 to 1999, starting with the Red Wings before moving on to the Oilers, Lightning, Kings and Penguins.

At the end of his career, he also returned to Edmonton and Detroit for one-season stints each.

“The Detroit Red Wings are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Petr Klima, who died at the age of 58 in Chomutov, Czechia,” the organization said in a statement.

“The Red Wings organization offers its deepest condolences to the Klima family at this difficult time.”

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