Czech centre Jiří Novotný, a journeyman forward whose career took him across a dozen teams on three continents over a twenty year career, today announced his retirement from pro hockey at the age of 37, after his third and final season in the Swiss National League A.
Starting his junior career in the České Budějovice system, Novotný joined the senior team in 2000, spending just two seasons before heading to North America. The 22nd overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2001, Novotný spent two seasons with Buffalo’s AHL affiliate before joining the Sabres full time in 2006, spending just part of two seasons before joining Washington in 2007. After just 18 games, Novotný spent the next two seasons in Columbus, but failing to find an NHL footing, left for the KHL in 2009. Novotný would spend one season with Atlant Mytishchi, followed by two with Barys Astana, before captaining his native Lev Praha from 2012-14. Following Praha’s KHL departure, Novotný would see stints with Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk and Togliatti before heading to Switzerland, spending his final three pro seasons with HC Ambrì-Piotta of the Swiss NLA. In a career that saw him compete with twelve teams in four leagues across five countries, Novotný combined for 107 goals and 301 points in 734 career games.
First joining the Narodnitym in the junior ranks at the 2000 World Under-18 Championships, Novotný competed at both the 2002 and 2003 World Juniors, the latter while playing in the U.S. His first senior tournament did not come until the 2007 World Championships, his first of eight World tournaments, which saw him capture Gold at the 2010 Worlds in Germany, along with a pair of Bronze medals in 2011 and 2012. Novotný also competed for the Czechs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and was part of numerous Euro Hockey Tour squads from 2009-19, helping Czechia win just their second Tour championship at the 2011-12 edition.
Over the course of his long career, Novotný captured the IHLC eight times, first in the lead-up to the 2003 World Juniors, with his final title coming 15 years later on the 2018-19 Euro Hockey Tour. We wish Jiří and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!