Netminder Ján Lašák, a mainstay in the net for Slovakia for nearly two decades, announced his retirement from pro hockey, instead opting to help overhaul a Slovak Hockey Association heading in a new direction under the leadership of former teammate and national team GM Miroslav Šatan.
Lašák began his pro career as a prospect of the Nashville Predators, joining their minor league system in 1999, but after just six starts in three seasons in North America, Lašák returned to Europe, joining SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian League. Lašák joined HC Pardubice of the Czech league in 2004, spending five seasons before returning to Russia, joining Atlant Mytishchi in 2009. Lašák then became something of a journeyman, spending short stints with squads in Slovakia (Kosice and Dukla Trencin), Finland (Jokerit) and the KHL (Amhur Khabarovsk and Spartak Moscow) before returning to the Czech league to settle in with Liberec, spending his final four seasons with the White Tigers. Lašák retires a two-time Extraliga champion (2005 and 2016), being named Top Goalie in 2016 and League MVP in 2005.
After playing at the 1999 World Juniors for Slovakia, Lašák joined the senior team at the 2000 World Championships, suiting up for ten tournaments, along with the Olympics in 2002 and 2006, and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Lašák captured hardware in the form of bronze at both the 1999 World Juniors and 2003 Worlds and silver at the 2000 Worlds, but is best known in Slovakia for being the keeper that backstopped Slovakia to a stunning upset over Russia at the 2002 World Championships, bringing Slovakia its first (and so far only) World Championship Gold, just nine years after becoming an independent nation.
Despite his numerous appearances for Slovakia, Lašák surprisingly only held the IHLC three times: at the 2000 World Championships, his Gold medal win at the 2002 Worlds, and to open the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. We wish Ján and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!