ZURICH – The international hockey family mourns the death of former hockey greats Milan Kajkl, Tsutomu Kawabuchi and Eric Paterson.
Former Czechoslovak player Milan Kajkl passed away in Plzen on Saturday at the age of 63. As a defenceman he was part of the national team’s highly successful era in the ‘70s and won World Championship gold in 1976 and 1977, Olympic silver in 1976 and was part of the Czechoslovak team that finished the 1976 Canada Cup in second place. He represented his country in 106 international games.
Tsutomu Kawabuchi passed away on Sunday at 88 years of age. He was part of the Iwakuragumi club as a player and coach for almost 20 years and as national team coach he led Japan to gold in the 1962 IIHF World Championship B-Pool. Later he organized several Asian-Oceanic events. In 1991 he established the women’s team Iwakura Peregrine that went on to help the Japanese women’s hockey program. These efforts were rewarded as Kawabuchi was largely responsible for making women's ice hockey an official Olympic event for the first time during the 1998 Games in Nagano. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to experience the team’s Olympic comeback in Sochi 2014. Kawabuchi was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2004. The funeral service will take place on 23 January 2014 in Tomakomai, Hokkaido.
Former goalkeeper Eric Paterson passed away last Tuesday in Sherwood Park, Alberta. He was 84. The Edmonton native represented Canada with the Edmonton Mercurys in the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo where it won gold. It was the last time Canada would win Olympic gold in hockey for 50 years and Paterson was on the tribune when the Canadians became Olympic champion in Salt Lake City 2002. As a member of the gold-winning Mercurys he was inducted into the Alberta Sport Hall of Fame in 1968.