Other International Stars
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.
10/17/1950, Citice, Czechoslovakia