Petr Klíma was a hockey player who won the 1990 Stanley Cup as a forward for the Edmonton Oilers.
Petr Klíma’s legacy
Born in Communist Czechoslovakia, Klíma was still living there when the Detroit Red Wings drafted him in 1983. With the help of the Red Wings, he was able to defect to the U.S. in 1985, smuggled out of the country in a covert operation that included a late-night escape through the woods. The first Czech player to defect to a U.S. NHL team, Klíma made his NHL debut that same year. He played for the Red Wings through 1989 before being traded to the Oilers. Klíma helped his new team to their 1990 Stanley Cup victory when he scored the game-winning goal in the third overtime of game one, which remains the longest game in the history of the Stanley Cup finals.
A 1993 trade placed Klíma with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he remained for three seasons. He bounced between several teams in his final NHL season before being released in 1997. Klíma later played at home in the Czech Republic before his retirement in 2003. He always wore jersey number 85 to commemorate the year of his defection.
“I came here to play hockey, not to get money. Money wasn’t the reason I came. Hockey is something that I like doing. It’s fun.” —from a 1985 interview for the Los Angeles Times
Tributes to Petr Klíma
Full obituary: The Detroit News