Calgary Flames 17 days until the season starts: #17 Jiri Hrdina

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: Jiri Hrdina #17 of the Calgary Flames Alumni team. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: Jiri Hrdina #17 of the Calgary Flames Alumni team. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Less than two and a half weeks to go! With 17 days until the regular season starts, let’s take a look at a former Calgary Flames player with that number.

Since the start of August, we’re counting down the number of days left until the regular season starts up again! Every day until the start of the season, we’ll be talking about a Calgary Flames player whose number correlates with how many days there are left.

Yesterday, we talked about a guy who has more of a leadership type role in the locker room with the Flames. That was #18 Matt Stajan.

Today with 17 days left, let’s change it up and talk about someone who’s been retired for a while. And who didn’t play in his first NHL game until 1980. Let’s look at #17 Jiri Hrdina.

Related Story: 18 days until the season starts: #18 Matt Stajan

Who is Jiri Hrdina?

Name: Jiri Hrdina

Birthplace: Prague, Czechoslovakia

Position: C

Shoots: Left

Birthdate: 1958-01-05

Height: 6’0” / 183 cm

Weight: 88 kg / 195 lbs

Drafted by: Calgary Flames, 159th overall 1984

Stats with all teams, regular season:

As we can see, even though Jiri Hrdina was drafted in 1984 by the Calgary Flames, he didn’t play in his first NHL game until 1988. That’s because of a rule in Czechoslovakia at the time, that players from Czechoslovakia couldn’t play in the NHL until after the 1988 Winter Olympics. So he waited.

He continued to play in Czech and also played in several international ice hockey competitions before making his NHL debut. Everything he’s done before playing his first NHL game:

  • Two World Juniors (one bronze medal)
  • Five World Championships (one gold, one silver, two bronze medals)
  • Two Olympics (one silver)
  • Two Canada Cups

After the 1988 Olympics, he immediately joined the Flames after and scored one assist in his first ever NHL game, at the age of 30 in March of 1988. In the nine games he played with the Flames that season, he scored two goals and had seven points. Not too shabby for a rookie, hey?

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The following season was quite impressive for the forward. He started the first 14 games with already six goals and 10 assists, and one hat trick. Then on Nov. 7th, 1988, the Calgary Flames were playing a game against the Hartford Whalers and Hrdina had a four-goal night. Now giving him 10 goals and 20 points in just 15 games. Again, not too shabby.

But something else exciting happened in the 1988-89 season.

Hrdina only four playoff games, but the Flames won the cup that year! So in his first full NHL season, he already has a Stanley Cup ring. That’s quite impressive, right?

The rest of his career, Hrdina established himself as more of a defensive forward and improved his two-way game. In the middle of the season in 1990-91, Hrdina had just three assists in 14 games and was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins. But he wasn’t happy about it.

He considered retiring from the NHL and going back to play in Europe, but he chose to stick it out. And if you know the name “Jaromir Jagr”, you might know that he was also from Czechoslovakia. And the Pens hoped that Hrdina could help rookie Jagr adapt to North American life. Yes, Jagr was a rookie at that time. Yes, that puts into perspective how old he is.

Turns out Hrdina made the right decision in staying. In 37 games with the Pens, he had six goals and 14 points in the regular season.

He played in 14 playoff games with the Pens that year and another exciting feat happened for him: He now has another Stanley Cup to add to his name. I’m not sure if you know about those seasons for the Penguins, but the following year, the Pens had back-to-back cups. Which means that Hrdina also had back-to-back cups. Hrdina now has three Stanley Cups in just four full NHL seasons. I mean.. that’s kind of impressive I guess.

After that season, Hrdina announced his retirement from the NHL. He didn’t continue to play in Europe either, however he then became a European scout for the Calgary Flames. He did that until 1999 before becoming a European scout for the Dallas Stars, where he’s still doing that.

CALGARY, AB – FEBRUARY 19: Jiri Hrdina #17 of the Calgary Flames Alumni team. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB – FEBRUARY 19: Jiri Hrdina #17 of the Calgary Flames Alumni team. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

In 2011, Hrdina also played in the Heritage Classic alumni game, the outdoor game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames.

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Hrdina may have only played in the NHL for four years and it may have been a somewhat early retirement, but he already had lots of accomplishments on his resume.