Josef Augusta, a star player with the Czechoslovak national team in the 1960s and ‘70s and equally successful coach later in life has passed away at the age of 70 in Jihlava after a lengthy fight with pancreatic cancer.
“This is very sad news,” said Bedrich Scerban, himself a former player and coach. “Mr. Augusta was one of the greatest legends of Jihlava and the entire Czech and Czechoslovak hockey."
Augusta’s international linemates were most frequently Bohuslav Ebermann and Ivan Hlinka and with Jihlava he played with Eduard Novak and Milan Novy for many years.
Augusta, a left winger, was active with the national team for a decade, later coached the team to success as well. The native of Havlickuv Brod also had a lengthy career with his club team, HC Dukla Jihlava, for whom he started in 1966.
Internationally, Augusta played at the 1969 World Championship at age 22. Czechoslovakia won a bronze medal in the closest tournament ever. All three medallists finished tied with records of eight wins and two losses, but the Soviets and Swedes placed higher because of the goal difference.
Augusta also won silver medals in 1974, 1975, and 1978, but 1976 was his biggest year on the international stage. Augusta helped the Czechoslovakia win silver at the Olympics in Innsbruck in February, and then in September he was named to the team for the inaugural Canada Cup.
When the Czechoslovaks beat Canada 1-0 in the round robin, Augusta assisted on Milan Novy’s goal. In game two of the finals, also against Canada, Augusta scored a critical goal during a third-period rally that forced overtime.
Although Augusta didn’t play internationally after 1978, he continued to play for Dukla Jihlava until 1982. In all, he won eight national championships with his club team. After retiring, he turned to coaching, first as an assistant with Jihlava and then assuming head coaching duties in 1996.
His experience behind the bench at the league level earned him an assignment as assistant coach to former linemate Hlinka at the 1999 World Championship, where the Czechs won gold.
Augusta was then head coach for the next three seasons, winning gold again in 2000 and 2001 during what was the very epitome of Czech hockey success (often called the golden hat trick). He also coached the team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake, where the team finished 7th.
“Josef Augusta is closely related to the most successful period of our hockey history,” said Tomas Kral, president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association. “We are losing not only an excellent hockey player and an extremely successful coach, but also a great man and friend.”
Augusta’s son, Patrik, also had a fine hockey career, both in the NHL and with the Czechs at the 1992 World Championship and Olympics.