Slovak goaltender Ján Laco, whose theatrics at the 2012 World Championship landed Slovakia a surprise Silver medal, today announced his retirement from pro hockey at the age of 38.
Laco, a Liptovský Mikuláš native, began his career at 19 with his hometown HK 32 of the Slovak Extraliga, spending five seasons with the Liptáci. Laco then joined HC Košice in 2005, spending three seasons before beginning to jump around the Extraliga. Between 2007 and 2012, Laco would have stints in Liptovský Mikuláš, Banská Bystrica, Zvolen, Nitra and Devta, before jumping to Poprad of the KHL in 2011. Laco would spend the next four seasons in the KHL, two with HC Donbass and two with Barys Astana, before joining Piráti Chomutov of the Czech Extraliga n 2017. After just one season, Laco returned to HC Košice for the 2018-19 season, which would mark his final in his pro career. Laco won the Slovak League title in 2008, and the Continental Cup in 2013 with Donbass, also being named Best Goalie of the tournament.
Laco emerged on the Slovak national team in 2007, playing sporadically in smaller tournaments before debuting at the World Championships at 2012, helming net for the Slovak team that went on a tear and ended up as surprise finalists, falling to Russia in the final and winning an unexpected Silver, Slovakia’s first medal since Bronze in 2003. Laco would also be named to the tournament’s All-Star Team, as well as the tournament’s Best Goalie. Laco would suit up for another three World Championships (2014, 2015, 2017), as well as at both the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, being named one of Slovakia’s top players in both 2014 and 2015.
Over the course of his decade-long career with the national team, Laco only won the IHLC twice in his career – once in 2012, at the start of Slovakia’s silver medal run, and again at the 2016 Deutschland Cup. We wish Ján and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!