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The Great Jiri Slegr

(RC Note - this is requested by Jes Golbez of the Jire Slegr fan club upon discovering I'd lost a Canucks based wager.)

After five seasons with Litvinov of the Czech league, the 21 year-old Jiri Slegr joined the Canucks in 1992-93. He'd already had considerable seasoning on the international stage, having played for his country at the World Junior Championships in 1990 and 1991, winning bronze medals each time. He was named best defenseman at the 1991 tournament. He also took part in the senior World Championships in 1991 and brought home another bronze medal from the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

Slegr's NHL career hasn't been quite so glorious. He spent part of his rookie season with the Canucks' American league farm club in Hamilton, then played the entire 1993-94 season with Vancouver, posting 38 points in 78 games. But although he was the club's third-highest scoring defenseman, he didn't suit up in a single playoff game during the Canucks' run to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.

In April 1995 he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers, and by 1996-97 he was back in Europe, suiting up primarily with the Swedish club Sodertalje. He played in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, in which the Czech Republic placed a disappointing eighth out of eight teams and at the 1997 World Championships, where he helped his team win bronze. In 1997 he returned to the NHL after his rights were traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins had once been an offensive powerhouse but they were now empasizing defense, a shift that had a profound influence over Slegr's style of play. His new style also paid off at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where the Czech team surprised everyone with its excellent defense and would go on to win the gold medal.

After suiting up for the Czech Republic at the 1998 World Championship, Slegr continued to be a dependable blueliner for the Penguins, scoring a career-high 11 goals in 99-2000. After parts of four seasons with the Penguins, Slegr was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2000-01 season, before being on the move yet again during the 2001-02 season.

Slegr moved from Atlanta to Detroit in 2001-02, and was fortunate enough to capture his first Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. Following his Stanley Cup win in 2002, Slegr opted to play overseas before returning to the NHL in 2003-04 and to the team that originaly drafted him back in 1990 the Vancouver Canucks. Upon his return to Vancouver, Slegr was used sparingly and was subsequently dealt to the Boston Bruins towards the mid-point of the season. In 36 games with the Bruins, Slegr accounted for 19 points (4-15-19) before going on to represent his homeland at the 2004 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.

In the fall of 2004, Slegr was named to the Czech Republic's World Cup and in the spring of 2005, helped lead his homeland to a gold medal at the World Championship.
Some audio on Slegr. I found this at the Canucks site. It is from when Slegr returned to vancouver a second time in 2003. The audio has 8 clips of Q & A.
Newly acquired Jiri Slegr held a conference call with the local media today. Here are some of the clips from the media call.
1. On his decision to go play in Europe last season.
2. Describes the nature of the negotiations with the Canucks and other teams this off season.
3. Was going to Europe the right decision?
4. Talks about the injury he suffered in Russia while playing for Omsk.
5. Likes the thought of coming back to play in Vancouver.
6. Asked what improvement the fans who remember him from his first tour in Vancouver would see Slegr says hopefully quite a bit.
7. Talks about his bittersweet Stanley Cup with Detroit.
8. Comments on whether or not he has talked to the coaching staff about his role with Vancouver.