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Marian Stastny

Marian is the oldest of the three Stastny brothers who terrorized the NHL in the early 1980's when they formed one of the most feared lines. Middle brother Peter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. Both Anton and Peter always insisted that Marian was the most talented of them all. A talent that he displayed briefly in the NHL.

Marian was born in Bratislava, Slovakia where he played for Slovan Bratislava between 1970-80 (and a half season for Dukla Jihlava). He scored 236 goals in 369 league games and represented Czechoslovakia 122 times, scoring 54 goals. He represented his country in the 1971 and 1972 World European Junior Championships and the World Championships between 1975-79. He also played in the 1980 Olympics and 1976 Canada Cup. During that time he was a two time World Champion (1976 & 77) as well as a league champion in 1979.

His brothers had defected to Canada in 1980 during a tournament in Austria. Marian helped arrange his brothers defections but had to remain behind when they left. Marian stayed because he had his family left in Czechoslovakia. Quite heroically, he assumed the inevitable iron-curtain indignities as punishment for his brothers escape. He was banned from all hockey, both on the national team as well as club hockey. He was also banned from working anywhere in the Soviet-bloc country. Marian attempted to lure government officials into believing that he wasn't interested in following suit and defecting to North America. He publicly denounced his brothers in ruse for their escapes and he continued to make structural improvements for his home. He later vacationed in other East Bloc countries with his wife, Eva, and three children until they finally managed to skip into Austria. From there, the family took a jet and officially defected to Canada.

Quebec Nordiques' fans anxiously anticipated Marian's arrival. This to the background that Peter's and Anton's play during their rookie seasons was a tremendous success. Peter set a rookie record with 109 points, his 70 assists is a NHL rookie record. Anton had a very impressive 85 points, a rookie record for left wings. Marian didn't disappoint, scoring 89 points, at times reunited on a line with his brothers. Peter exploded for 139 points, and Anton had 72 points. All in all the trio combined for 300 points. The Stastny's continued their terrific pace in the playoffs making it to the semifinals before finally losing to the eventual champions NY Islanders.

Marian's sophomore season in 1982-83 began at a torrid pace. After 33 games he was second in the league in points only behind Wayne Gretzky. Marian had 58 points, 26 goals and 32 assists. He cooled off significantly, and then had his season end in Quebec's 60th game of the season. Skating at home against the defending champions NY Islanders Marian's two goals gave the Nordiques to a 4-1 3rd period lead. While carrying the puck into the Islanders zone, he was crunched to the boards by Greg Gilbert. He remained on the ice, in a lot of pain. Later on, in the dressing room, he learned that he had suffered a badly dislocated shoulder that would sideline him for the remainder of the season. His dream season was over with 36 goals, 43 assists and 79 points in only 60 games.

Marian never recovered fully from the shoulder injury and slowed down considerably in 1983-84, scoring 52 points. (20 goals and 32 assists) in 68 games. The Stastny line was broken up and Marian saw less and less ice time in 1984-85. He was gradually squeezed out of the lineup.

Stastny was placed on waivers by the Nordiques in the summer of 1985. Toronto, Montreal and Pittsburgh expressed interest in the 31-year old forward. The Canadiens wanted Marian badly but couldn't guarantee him a spot on the team, so he eventually decided to join the Leafs.

Marian was a good addition to the Leafs team with his savvy and ability to play on all three forward positions. Marian formed a line with countrymen Miroslav Frycer and Peter Ihnacak. The trio got a total of 173 points. with Marian picking up 53 of them, including 23 goals, in 70 games. Marian could have played at least one more season in the NHL but opted to finish his playing career in Switzerland and HC Sierre (1986-87). He was Sierre's trainer the following season.

Marian didn't make his debut in the NHL until he was almost 29-years old and on the downhill of his career, but despite that he managed to score almost a point per game. He had 294 points (121 goals and 173 assists) in 322 regular season games and 22 points in 32 playoff games.

Marian always loved Quebec City, and continues to live in the area. He is also a very entrepreneurial person, owning the bar Dix-Huit (French for 18, his jersey number) while he played, and now owning his own hotel and golf course in St. Nicholas on the southern shores of the capital city.

1 comments:

Vix June 15, 2013 at 5:21 AM  

Fantastic and always my favourite player. I watched him many times for Czecholovakia in 70´s.

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