Other International Stars
Erich Kuhnhackl
Germany
By Patrick Houda

Name the greatest German hockey player ever. Okay, so its tough to name more than  couple. Uwe Krupp would probably get the most votes since he has been an established and accomplished defenseman in the National Hockey League for quite some time. But how about the German scoring machine Erich Kühnhackl.

Traditionally Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, and Finland are the hockey powers. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are now rebuilding into a power after their country split. Switzerland and Germany are also developing into a possible future hockey power. Much of Germany's historic hockey success comes from one man: Erich Kühnhackl.

Kühnhackl was born on Cotboer 17, 1950 in Citice Czechoslovakia.  The son of German parents, he didn't move to Germany until his family moved in 1968.

Kühnhackl (a West German, as he played when the country was still split between East and West) scored 724 goals in 774 games in Germany. He played primarily with EV Landshut (1968-76, 79-85, 88-89) and Kolner EC (1976-79) (he played for Olten in Swetizerland in 1985-86) Kühnhackl first started playing professionally in 1968 and excelled until his retirement in 1989. He led his teams to the German championship in 1970, 77, 79 and 83. He also holds the record in Germany for goals and points, and recorded 53 hat tricks, 3 more than Wayne Gretzky has. Granted, the German leagues are of little comparison to the NHL or even other European leagues at that time, Kühnhackl proved himself on the international stage as well.

Kühnhackl scored a mindboggling 723 goals and 705 assists 1428 points in only 771 games, all German records. The 7 time scoring leader had 83 goals and 155 points in 1979-80 for career and country highs.

Kühnhackl almost single-handedly kept Germany in the Olympic "A" pool. In International hockey The worst team is often dropped to the "B" pool, thus giving another country a chance. While Germany was never an international power, Kühnhackl was. In 75 World Championship games, Kühnhackl scored 40 goals and 35 assists for 75 points. He led the 1978 World Championship tournament in scoring with 16 points in 10 games. The 6'5" giant also added 126 career penalty minutes, showing his willingness to play a physical game.

As with all International stars who never had a chance to excel in the National Hockey League, the true test comes in the Olympic Games, a test in which Kühnhackl excelled. He participated in three Olympic games. The first Games was in 1976 and Kühnhackl's 5 goals and 10 points helped Germany to the Bronze Medal. It was the last Olympic medal Germany achieved in hockey. The only other medal the country received was a Bronze in 1932. Kühnhackl was the highest scoring non-Soviet player in a tournament easily won by the Red Army. Lorenz Funk and Ernst Kopf helped Kühnhackl to their last Olympic triumph.

In the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, West Germany finished a respectable 5th place, ahead of both Finland and the USA. Kühnhackl led the entire tournament in scoring, with 8 goals and 6 assists in 6 games.

Its debatable if Kühnhackl could have played in the NHL. He most likely wouldn't have dominated like he did in Germany, but he had the size and skill to be a good NHL forward. In fact he was offered a contract by the NY Rangers in the 1970's, but turned it down to stay in Germany where he actually made even more money.

Career Statistics

Born: 10/17/1950, Citice, Czechoslovakia
Height:  6'5"  Weight:  210lbs
Position:  Center  Shoots:  Left
Career Notes: Played in 3 Olympics and 10 World Championships. Scored 131 goals in 211 International Games for Germany
Season Club League GP G A Pts PIM
1967-68 Banik Sokolov Czech 2 NA NA NA NA NA
1969-69 EV Landshut Ger 14 6 2 8 2
1969-70 EV Landshut Ger 35 21 14 35 14
1970-71 EV Landshut Ger 35 16 12 28 18
1971-72 EV Landshut Ger 32 24 19 43 36
1972-73 EV Landshut Ger 40 38 30 68 43
1973-74 EV Landshut Ger 36 50 26 76 40
1974-75 EV Landshut Ger 35 47 20 67 90
1975-76 EV Landshut Ger 35 29 17 46 73
1976-77 Kolner EC Ger 40 47 26 73 79
1977-78 Kolner EC Ger 46 52 43 95 43
1978-79 Kolner EC Ger 52 59 58 117 99
1979-80 EV Landshut Ger 48 83 75 155 67
1980-81 EV Landshut Ger 44 40 46 86 74
1981-82 EV Landshut Ger 38 41 61 102 34
1982-83 EV Landshut Ger 36 32 48 80 70
1983-84 EV Landshut Ger 42 35 52 87 75
1984-85 EHC Olten Switz 36 30 39 69 59
1985-86 EHC Olten Switz 15 6 8 14 38
1985-86 EV Landshut Ger 35 20 29 49 47
1986-87 EV Landshut Ger 35 20 29 49 47
1987-88 EV Landshut Ger 36 21 38 59 67