Other International Stars
Jan Suchy
By Patrick Houda

Many times called the European Bobby Orr, Jan Suchy controlled games like no other European defenseman before him. His rink length rushes on the ice became legendary back home in Czechoslovakia. Suchy was one of very few defensemen who could get people out of their seats. Although he was a heavy smoker it never affected his fitness.

He was born on October 10,1944 in Havlickuv Brod. As a little kid he grew up in Havlickuv Brod where he played hockey on a small frozen pond named Cihlar. There he toyed around with two other Czechoslovakian hockey legends, the Holik brothers (Jiri and Jaroslav). NHL'er Bobby Holik's father and uncle. At the age of 7 they moved to the winter stadium in Kotlina that had natural ice. There they played under the supervision of Jaroslav Holik Sr. (Bobby Holik's grandfather).

Suchy first played real organized hockey at the age of 8 for the local team Jiskra Havlickuv Brod. He played there for 11 seasons (1952-63). After that Suchy went on to play for the army team Dukla Jihlava between 1963-79. During his 16 seasons in the Czech league, Suchy racked up 162 goals in 562 games, which made him the highest scoring defenseman in Czechoslovakian league history.  He won the league title 7 times (1967-72 and 74).

Never before had anyone in Europe seen a defenseman as complete as Suchy. He could do it all. He was a great skater who could set the pace of a game in the same fashion as a Bobby Orr or Doug Harvey. Suchy was virtually a fourth forward on the ice with his fine technique, vision and skating. He not only excelled offensively but did it defensively as well. Suchy was also a master shotblocker who never hesitated to throw his body in front of a shot. He got injured many times blocking shots. In 561 league games he scored 164+221 = 385 points (351 Pim's).

He represented Czechoslovakia 160 times and scored 44 goals. Suchy was voted to the World Championship All-Star team four times in a row (1968-71). He won the first two "Golden Stick" awards in 1969 and 70, given to the best player in Europe. In 1969 and 71 he was selected as the best defenseman in the World Championships. Many thought that he should have been selected in 1970 as well, including the winner "Lill-Strimma" Svedberg.

When "Lill-Strimma" skated out to accept his award he immidiately went over to Suchy and patted him on the  back to tell him that the jury didn't know what they were doing and that Suchy and nobody else deserved the award.

" I have no idea if he understood what I had told him" said "Lill-Strimma" later on, " But I've never seen a better defenseman in my life, and it only felt appropriate to tell him what I felt about it."

In 1971 a drunk Suchy behind the wheel was involved in a serious car accident that almost killed a couple of people. He was sentenced by a millitary court to 18 months in jail but was released earlier. He was also absent from the Czechoslovakian national team for a couple of years. He never was the same player after this incident.

Suchy was active until he was 40. He finished his playing career in Austria and Germany where he still was one of the better players despite his age. He played for WAT Stadlau (Austria) 1979-81, ESV Kaufbeuren (Germany) 1981-82, EV Landsberg (Germany) 82-83  and UEC Mödling (Austria) 1983-84. 

Another interesting tidbit - Suchy was the first European star to be placed under a NHL protected list when the Boston Bruins claimed him as their prospect.

Career Statistics

Born: 10/10//1944, Havlickuv Brod, Czechoslovakia
Height:  5'8"  Weight:  160lbs
Position:  Defense  Shoots:  Left
Career Notes: 1 Olympic Silver Medal, participated in 8 World Championships
Season Club League GP G A Pts PIM
1961-62 Jiskra Havlickuv Czech 2 NA NA NA NA NA
1962-63 Jiskra Havlickuv Czech 2 NA NA NA NA NA
1963-64 Dukla Jihlava Czech NA NA NA NA NA
1964-65 Dukla Jihlava Czech NA NA NA NA NA
1965-66 Dukla Jihlava Czech NA NA NA NA NA
1966-67 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 11 - 11 -
1967-68 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 7 20 27 -
1968-69 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 28 26 54 -
1969-70 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 21 23 44 35
1970-71 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 9 20 29 -
1971-72 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 6 14 20 -
1972-73 Dukla Jihlava Czech NA NA NA NA NA
1973-74 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 5 18 23 -
1974-75 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 4 11 15 -
1975-76 Dukla Jihlava Czech 32 2 7 9 14
1976-77 Dukla Jihlava Czech - 7 13 20 -
1977-78 Dukla Jihlava Czech 39 3 7 10 10
1978-79 Dukla Jihlava Czech 40 1 4 5 12
1979-80 Stadiau Wien Austria2 NA NA NA NA NA
1980-81 Stadiau Wien Austria 33 9 16 25 31
1981-82 ESV Kaufbeuren Ger 16 3 3 6 8
1982-83 EV Landsberg Ger 3 33 18 23 41 42
1983-84 UEC Modling Austria2 NA NA NA NA NA