Coach Bukac passes away
by Martin Merk|22 APR 2019
Ludek Bukas was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2007.
photo: Jani Rajamaki / Europhoto
Legendary Czech coach Ludek Bukac passed away on Saturday morning at the age of 83 when his heart stopped beating. The native of Usti nad Labem was the second Czechoslovak-born IIHF Hall of Fame member who passed away within a week after Jan Starsi, another builder of this era.

Bukac was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2007 and was also a member of the Czech Hall of Fame.

He spent most of his career as a player with Sparta Prague and represented the Czechoslovak national team in 30 international games including two World Championships in 1961 and 1963 winning World Championship silver and the European title in 1961. However, he had a much bigger impact in his later career behind the bench.

At the end of his career as a player he went to North America for one-and-a-half years to study the game in Canada and at the Boston Bruins after graduating in physical education at home.

In 1979 he joined Karel Gut as assistant coach of the national team before becoming the Czechoslovak national team’s head coach in 1981 at the Canada Cup and the World Championship, finishing both times in third place. That was followed by two World Championship silver medals in the following years and silver at the 1984 Olympics. At the 1985 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice in Prague the colour of the medal was finally gold breaking the Soviet dominance.
Two coaching legends in 1985: Ludek Bukac of Czechoslovakia and Viktor Tikhonov of the Soviet Union.
photo: IIHF Archive
Shortly before the end of the iron curtain he moved to his neighbouring countries to assume his job as a hockey coach in the “capitalist world”. For five years he was Austria’s national team coach followed by three years as Germany’s national team coach. In 1994 he returned to his native country, now called the Czech Republic. In his second year he led the Czechs to the first World Championship gold of the post-Czechoslovak era in 1996. His time as head coach of the Czech national team ended with the World Cup of Hockey the same year and a tournament in Sweden in February 1997 after which he resigned.

In domestic hockey he was coaching Sparta Prague, Kosice and Ceske Budejovice. As a 63-year-old he had his last IIHF tournament in the second tier as head coach of the Polish national team in 1999.

“Ludek Bukac was a significant part of our hockey history for half a century. As a player and especially as a coach, methodologist and pedagogue he has contributed significantly to the success of the Czech hockey school in this period. After the recent death of Jan Starsi, former Czechoslovak hockey has lost another significant personality,” Tomas Kral, President of the Czech Ice Hockey Association, said in a statement.

Bukac opened a hockey school together with his son, Ludek Bukac Jr, in the ‘90s where he continued his legacy as a coach on but as well off the ice with various coaching publications.