Hockey player Stanislav Konopásek became famous as a master of loops and a break player with a cold-blooded transformation of offensive actions. The homegrown Hall of Famer would have turned 100 on April 18.
He won seven league titles with LTC Praha, and also contributed to the first two Czechoslovak championships. he won silver at the World Championships and from the 1948 Olympic Games. Two years later, he was arrested along with other representatives and sentenced to twelve years in prison in a fabricated trial. After five years in the uranium mines, he was able to return to hockey.
In the national team, “Konipas” played 50 matches, in which he scored 69 goals as a left winger with skillful hands. He added another 92 in the league, most of them for LTC, where, just like in the national team, he created the best European attacking formation at the time together with center Vladimír Zábrodský and Václav Roziňák. “We got along, we got along wonderfully on the ice. I was great friends with Roziňák, I considered Zábrodský a teammate. Our relationship has never been so close,” said Konopásek.
The small player made his debut in the jersey with the lion cub on his chest in December 1945, two years later in Prague he contributed 14 goals to the first gold at the World Championship. At the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, where Czechoslovakia finished second behind favored Canada only because of a worse score, he hit eleven times. At the 1949 WC in Stockholm, he was the best scorer of the winning team with 12 goals, including the decisive one against Canada.
“When we won the first world championship title, it was unrepeatable. Štvanice was bursting at the seams, after the defeat against the Swedes it seemed that the gold was gone. But then they lost to the Austrians and we rejoiced. Two years later we won in a certain way. I will never forget the journey from Sweden by train through Poland,” recalled Konopásek.
At the peak of his career, he was robbed of further success by a fabricated communist trial, in which he was condemned as a traitor and a spy, just like most of his national team teammates. Konopásek was sentenced to 12 years in prison, after five years of hard work in the Jáchymov uranium mines he was released thanks to an amnesty.
At first, he could only return to hockey in the Tatra Smíchov jersey, where he worked as a locksmith during the day and scored goals for B in the league in the evenings and on weekends. After a year, he and Roziňák headed to Sparta, where they renewed their cooperation with Zábrodský. “It wasn’t the same anymore, but I liked hockey,” said Konopásek, who, unlike several teammates, including Roziňák, did not emigrate.
After finishing his playing career, the native of Hořovice coached Berounska Motorlet and Sparta, and managed Katowice for three years. “It was nice in Poland, you could earn some extra money. You know, in our time, even the hockey players of the national team didn’t get insurance. I couldn’t go abroad, they only let me go as a coach. And that was only after intercession. Otherwise, I would have had bad luck, ” said the father of his son Jan.
Although the years spent in the Jáchymov mines undermined Konopásk’s health, the noble elegance graced a number of social events and meetings until his advanced age. He died in March 2008 at the age of 84.
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