Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka (Photo by Thorsten Wagner/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The former Bruins, Oilers and Senators center maintains his innocence in the bizarre case, which comes just weeks before the long-time coach is set to take the host Czech Republic into battle at the World Championship.
The Czech Republic is all set to host the 2015 World Championship later this month, but what should be a happy time in the hockey nation has been overshadowed by a strange allegation involving national team coach Vladimir Ruzicka.
The former NHLer with Boston, Edmonton and Ottawa has been accused by a player's father of taking a bribe, something Ruzicka emphatically denies. Ruzicka, who also coaches locally with the Slavia Prague organization (recent alum include San Jose's Tomas Hertl and St. Louis' Dmitrij Jaskin), was allegedly given a total of 500,000 Czech crowns (about $20,000 U.S.) by Miroslav Palascak in two installments. David Palascak, his son, played parts of two seasons for Slavia's under-20 squad, but was also loaned out to lower-tier teams beginning in 2011-12 and has not played a game for Slavia since.
Palascak's father secretly taped a meeting with Ruzicka and according to Agence France-Presse, Czech police are viewing the tape to see if a crime has been committed. No charges have been laid. Palascak believed the money would ensure that his son got to practise with Slavia.
Ruzicka – who, according to Germany's Sport1, believed the money was a donation to the program – eventually returned the money due to his own concerns and released a statement defending himself:
"I have never accepted any financial sum in exchange for a promise to privilege a player," he said.
Ruzicka went on to question the timing of the story, since he returned the money way back in November. A hero back home, Ruzicka is a Czech Hall of Famer with gold medals at the 1998 Olympics and 1985 World Championship. This year's worlds are being held in Prague and Ostrava, so it's a big time for Ruzicka and the national team.
Original press report sourced from Elliotte Friedman