Martin Rucinsky (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Czech Republic World Cup team is set to be built by former NHLer Martin Rucinsky, and some familiar faces will join him on the staff. Vinny Prospal, Jaroslav Spacek and Jiri Fischer will all be a part of the Czech entry.
Czech Republic’s squad at the World Cup will be built by one of the most prolific scorers to ever come from the country, and three of his countrymen, each of whom made their mark in the NHL, will join him.
It was announced Thursday that Martin Rucinsky, 44, has been named the GM of the Czech Republic squad. The decision to name Rucinsky GM was made because of his close relationship to players who could potentially make up the roster. Rucinsky’s career came to a close last season after seven seasons in the Czech league, before which he played 16 seasons in the NHL.
Rucinsky will also be joined by former NHLers Jaroslav Spacek, Vaclav ‘Vinny’ Prospal, Milan Hnilicka and Jiri Fischer on the staff. Spacek and Prospal will be assistant coaches under bench boss Josef Jandac, Hnilicka will be assistant GM and Fischer will take on top scouting duties.
“The World Cup takes place in Toronto and our opponents will be Canada and United States,” Jandac told the Czech Ice Hockey Association website, via NHL.com. "Therefore we have extended the team management with personalities who live [in North America] or have large amount of experience with local hockey. [Vaclav] Prospal with Jaroslav Spacek had played lots of games in NHL as well as Martin Rucinsky, who finished his professional career just recently and is very close to all nomination candidates.”
For both Rucinsky and the 40-year-old Prospal, who is the fourth-highest scoring Czech NHLer of all-time, it will be their first time being involved in roles off the ice. Each of Spacek, Hnilicka and Fischer have some experience with coaching and front office roles.
Spacek, who won a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics with Rucinsky, has served as an assistant under Jandac at the past two World Championships. Hnilicka, 42, was also a member of the 1998 Olympic squad and has acted as the manager for Czech U17, U18 and U20 teams over the past three seasons.
Fischer has the most NHL experience of the group, as he has spent the past eight seasons as a director of player development for the Detroit Red Wings. Fischer, 35, spent the entirety of his playing career with the Red Wings, but his career was shortened due to heart problems which some will remember due to the scary incident in which he collapsed on the Detroit bench during the 2005-06 season.
Though the World Cup training camps don’t begin until early September, Czech Republic will announce an 16-player roster, including two goaltenders, on March 2.