Other International Stars
This European giant of the 1920's and 30's have been largely ignored by the hockey world. It's time for this masterful player to get his due by Hockey Over Time. We are the first and only people on the internet to give this man the credit that he deserves. He should without a doubt be in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Hall of Fame. The IIHF should be ashamed of not having him in their Hall of Fame. And the Czech Ice Hockey Federation should be equally ashamed for ignoring this great player over the years.
So who was this Malecek guy ? Only the really great hockey freaks who knows anything about European hockey recognizes his name, but that's about it.
He was born on June 18,1903 in Prague, Czech Republic. He started his competitive hockey career in Sparta Praha (Prague) where he played between 1920 and 27. Then as a 24 year old he went on to play for LTC (Lawn Tennis Cercle) Praha where he was active until 1943.
During the 1930's LTC was the "terror of Europe". They were almost unbeatable. The only European teams that could beat LTC were a few French and British clubs loaded with Canadian players. No "normal" European team had a chance against this elegant Prague team.
LTC themselves had one or two Canadian players on their team during this era. Most notably Howie Grant and Mike Buckna.
But Josef Malecek was the king of European hockey. He was in fact so good that several of the touring Canadian teams in Europe during the 1930's wanted to bring him to Canada. Some of the players who had NHL experience said that he was good enough to play in the NHL. No other European player at that time got such fine reviews from the Canadians.
Everybody in Europe feared this man as soon as he stepped on the ice. The touring Canadian teams knew that if they were able to stop Malecek that the game was won.
So he was very closely checked by the Canadians every time they played LTC.
LTC took many fine scalps with Malecek as their trigger man. They were for example the only team to beat such strong team as the Saskatoon Quakers (1-0), and tied the Ottawa Shamrocks (1-1) and Sudbury Wolves (1-1) The Swedish national team was unable to beat LTC in the three games that they played against each other in the 1930's.
To further underline their superiority it's worth mentioning that they lost only one game in the Czech league during a 13 year span. No other team in the world dominated its league like LTC did.
Malecek had a great supporting cast in his wingers Jiri Tozicka and Karel Hromadka. They were the best line in Europe and if they left a game without a goal it was almost a sensation.
The Swiss club team HC Davos had a very fine line with the Cattini brothers and Bibi Torriani. They were probably the second best line in Europe at that time.
Many fine Canadians played in the Czech Republic during the 1930's. Dr.Watson, Grant, Buckna, Dr. McKenzie, Gromoll, Teeple, McIntyre, Mentzel, Godin, Bate Beda and others. But Malecek was better than all of them on most nights.
He scored 114 goals for the Czechoslovakian national team in only 107 games. And that was during an era when the European competition was strong. Malecek represented Czechoslovakia in 16 world and European Championships (1923-31,33-39) and three Olympic tournaments. 1924,28 and 36.
In 1932 he couldn't play due to a leg injury sustained in a skiing accident. That was the only time he was absent from the national team in a 17 year span.
Nobody knows how many goals he scored in the league. The first official league season in the Czech Republic was in 1937-38. Malecek led the entire league with 16 goals in 7 games. In 1933-34 for example he scored 36 pts (26+10) in 17 games for LTC during international competition. Several of these games were against Canadian teams.
Although he was a center he scored more goals than assists. Josef Malecek was a great skater who moved smoothly over the ice. He also had a very accurate shot, but probably his biggest strength was that he could dictate the tempo of a game.
He wasn't big, he was only about 5'7" and 150 Ibs but he wasn't afraid to use all his weight when needed. The fact that he always bounced back from all the heavy hits that he constantly received made him even more dangerous.
He finished his playing career as a playing coach for the Slovakian club SK Bratislava where he was active between 1943-48. When the communists came to Czechoslovakia then Malecek decided to immigrate to USA. He lived there until his death in 1982, long forgotten. But here at Hockey Over Time we honor this European superstar of the 1930's who was the only European player of NHL calibre during the 1920's and 30's.
Considering some of the stiffs that are inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame, it's a crime that Josef Malecek isn't one of them. But there will be a day when this little center will be honored by the IIHF. It's just a matter of time...it must be.