Veteran Czech winger Jan Hlaváč, whose nearly three-decade career was highlighted with the Golden Goal of the 1999 World Championships, today announced his retirement from the sport at age 45, leaving the game with a Czech Extraliga title and four World Championship medals in hand.
Debuting for his hometown Sparta Praha’s youth team in 1991, Hlaváč would join the senior club in 1994, spending his first six seasons in the Czech league before moving to North America. A 1995 NHL Draft pick of the New York Rangers, Hlava joined the Blueshirts full-time in 1999, spending two seasons in NYC before splitting the next two seasons between Philadelphia, Vancouver and Carolina, returning to the Rangers again in 2003-04. Hlaváč returned to Europe for three years, spending time between Genève-Servette of the Swiss League and Sparta, winning an Extraliga Championship in 2007, attempting one final NHL stint between Tampa and Nashville in 2007-08. Hlaváč would return to Europe for good in 2008, spending four seasons with Linköping of the Swedish Elitserien. Hlaváč would join return to Czechia in 2012, spending two seasons with Kladno, two more years with Sparta, and his final four pro seasons between the second and third divisions, spending his final season with HC Letci Letňany of the third division.
First joining the Narodnitym’s Under-18 squad in 1994, Hlaváč competed at the 1995 and 1996 World Junior Championships, debuting with the senior team the following year. Hlaváč made his World Championship debut in 1998, just months after Czechia’s historic 1998 Olympic Gold Medal, his first of six appearances (1998-99, 2003-06), winning Bronze. It was his second appearance in 1999 that would etch his name into the history books, striking in overtime of a tiebreaker game against Finland to capture Czechia’s second ever World title. Hlaváč would win a second Gold in 2005, along with a Silver in 2006 in his final national team appearance.
Over the course of his career, Hlaváč captured the IHLC a total of five times, all at the World Championship, the first coming in 1999 and the last in 2006. We wish Jan and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!