Slovakian player and coach Ján Starší, an architect of the 1970’s Czechoslovakian international powerhouse, passed away today after a long illness at the age of 85.
As a player, Starší starred for Slovakia’s top squad, Slovan Bratislava, winning five Czech Extraliga silver medals in eight seasons. He also played for the Czechs at the 1960 Olympics and four World Championships (1958-59, 1961, 1963), winning silver and two bronze in his playing career before retiring in 1966.
Starší switched to coaching in 1966, serving with Bayern München of the German league, before returning to Slovan in 1968. Starší spent nine seasons coaching in Germany (with München, Riessersee and Rosenheim), and five seasons with Slovan, winning the 1989 German title. He also co-coached the Czechoslovak national team with the legendary Karel Gut, winning two World Championships (1976, 1977), three World silvers (1974, 1975, 1979), as well as Olympic silver and and a second place Canada Cup finish, both in 1976. For his coaching prowess, Starší was inducted into the Slovak, German and IIHF Hall of Fames as a builder.
Starší first won the IHLC as a player in 1959, winning again in 1963, and another nine times as a coach, his first coming in 1975 and his final at the 1988 Olympics. Our condolences go out to the Starší family, as well as the extended hockey community in Czechia and Slovakia, on the passing of this legendary coach.