TOP 100 OILERS: JAROSLAV POUZAR (58)

Pouzar

When the Edmonton Oilers took a flyer on Jaroslav Pouzar in the fourth round of the 1982 Entry Draft, they were hoping his scoring exploits on the international stage with the Czech Republic would translate to finding a permanent left winger for the one-two punch of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. It never happened.

Pouzar, who was 30 when he arrived in Edmonton for the 1982-83 season, never did replicate the kind of offensive prowess he’d shown with Motor Ceske Budejovice back home – a stint that included seasons of 29, 42, 39 and 29 goals. Pouzar would instead become a role player, and a key one at that, who’d play a big part in Edmonton’s first Stanley Cup win in 1984 and go on to win three Cups with the Oilers.

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Jaroslav Pouzar

Forward

Born Jan 23 1951 — Cakovec, Czech Rep. 

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Height 6.00 — Weight 200 [183 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers


Round 4 #83 overall 1982 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

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Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

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+/-

PIM

S

S%

1982-83

EDM

74

15

18

33

17

57

86

17.4

1983-84

EDM

67

13

19

32

17

44

87

14.9

1984-85

EDM

33

4

8

12

3

28

36

11.1

1986-87

EDM

12

2

3

5

3

6

11

18.2

Career

186

34

48

82

40

135

220

15.5

PLAYOFFS:

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1982-83

31

EDM

1

2

0

2

0

1983-84

32

EDM

14

1

2

3

0

12

14

7.1

1984-85

33

EDM

9

2

1

3

2

2

12

16.7

1986-87

35

EDM

5

1

1

2

4

2

9

11.1

Career

29

6

4

10

6

16

35

11.4

NOTABLE

Pouzar, a blocky 5-foot-11, 205 pounder who Gretzky once described as “the physically strongest player I ever played with,” had difficulty adapting to the attacking style the talented, young Oilers favored. The Oilers scored 424 goals in 1982-83 and Pouzar had just 15. The Oilers scored 446 times the next season and Pouzar had just 13. It became obvious rather quickly Pouzar wouldn’t be the fit for Gretzky and Kurri they were looking for.

It’s tempting, then, to dismiss Pouzar as a bust, as a bit player who didn’t deliver and rode the coattails of the likes of Gretzky, Kurri and Mark Messier to those three dates with the Stanley Cup engraver. That would be selling Pouzar way, way short. Pouzar would re-invent himself in his second season, finding a home on a line with Ken Linseman and Dave Lumley.

Pouzar would settle in as a reliable two-way player who could fill in higher in the line-up, check opponents to a standstill and navigate the heavy going without blinking. Fact is, the fire hydrant-like Pouzar hit like a freight train. It’s those qualities that would see Pouzar play a significant part in that 1984 Cup win over the New York Islanders, who’d swept Edmonton in 1983.

THE STORY

While many credit Messier with scoring the goal in Game 3 that turned a series that was tied 1-1, a lot of people think a Pouzar hit on Smith – he ran Smith over behind the net while he was trying to play a puck – rattled Battlin’ Billy and played an equal part in sending the Oilers on their way.

Smith had allowed just one goal in Game 1, a 1-0 Oiler win, and one more in Game 2, a 6-1 romp for the Islanders. Then came Messier and Pouzar back at Northlands Coliseum. The Oilers pumped seven pucks past Smith in a 7-2 win that night. They won 7-2 again in Game 4 and closed out the series in five games and claimed their first Cup with a 5-2 decision.

While Pouzar never lived up to his billing as a scorer in Edmonton, he was anything but a passenger. The Oilers reached the Cup final in each of the four seasons Pouzar played in Edmonton and won three of them, the final parade coming in 1987 after he’d taken 1985-86 off to play in Germany.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

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  • Leaking5w-30

    I’m too young to even remember people talking about this guy…. But thanks for the history lesson. It’s easy for my generation to forget that the 84 oilers had a 3rd or fourth line.

  • Roberto

    Fair enough, I agree with that ballpark. Pretty decent role player on some pretty awful teams.

    Was hoping you had some stories about how he took baby Nuge’s Xbox away when he didn’t do house chores.

  • fran huckzky

    It is another example of how good those Oiler teams were. Pouzar was a star player on the Czech national team and a third liner on The Oil. If the opponents wanted to play fast or play rough and tough,The Oil were happy to oblige.

  • Whiskey_and_rum

    My father-in-law remembers him playing for Motor České Budějovice. He was celebrated as a physical player who could score.

    Played 168 games for Czechoslovakia, scored 73 goals.
    Won 2 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze medal at the World Championship, silver at Olympics in 1976.
    He could leave to NHL only because he was over 30 and played more than 150 games for his country (rules at that time). He is the first Czech player to win Stanley cup.
    His 3 rings at 14:00: http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/1186000189-13-komnata/206562210800015-13-komnata-jaroslava-pouzara

    In 2009 he received World fair play award.
    “Jaroslav Pouzar has had an exceptional sports career: from 1970 to 1982 in the Czechoslovak national team he played 168 matches and scored 73 goals. He became world champion and then went to the NHL, the North American professional league, and won the Stanley Cup three times (1984, 1985, 1987) playing for the Edmonton Oilers. Throughout his career and private life, Jaroslav Pouzar, who never needed to foul his competitors in order to stand out on the ice, always acted in harmony with the principles of Fair Play. Having returned to his birthplace, České Budějovice, he continued to organise sport and guide all the players he coached towards and in the same spirit of sportsmanship until he was halted by an invidious form of leukaemia.”

    He lives in Ceske Budejovice.

  • ubermiguel

    6′ (other sites list him at 5’11”), 200lbs and the strongest player Gretzky ever played with. Just a reminder about what’s important: the size of fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight.

  • Druds

    Oh man Pouzer’s helmet was almost as bad as Borje Salming’s … SOOOO UGLY of course part of the problem was Pouz had a big melon head …. we have to do a post on top 10 most ugly helmets

    Love the guy tho…

  • Pouzar99

    Obviously I am a huge fan of the Pouz and loved reading this article. He didn’t just help beat the Isles. He also beat leukemia. I would only add that he had the driest sense of humour I have ever encountered. I remember the game where he was hit hard in the face with the puck and really messed up. Afterwards a reporter asked Pouz if he was worried about the impact on his looks. His reply? “Don’t need looks. Already married.” Love it.

    • Whiskey_and_rum

      He was recently asked by a reporter about his health after beating leukemia.

      “I am having troubles with lungs and liver, a have lost my sense of taste. Also my hearing worsened, I am losing balance and sight is worsening.

      Otherwise I am okay!”

      • Pouzar99

        Another great Pouzar quote! Thanks. I remember one night he was playing with Gretzky and missed a basket full of glorious set-ups. When asked about it afterwards he lifted his arms and said “My hands. I should cut them off.”

        • Whiskey_and_rum

          Pouzar said that his english was bad, with strong accent (I guess he never ever expected to play in NHL). Gretzky and company used to record his interviews and play them in the dressing room to entertain themselves. He must have been popular with the team.