November 12, 2023
Roman Cechmanek, who caught lightning in a bottle as the Flyers' goaltender in the early 2000s, died Sunday at 52, per reports coming out of his native Czech.
Cechmanek played three seasons for the Flyers from 2000-2003 and put up spectacular numbers throughout with a .923 save percentage, a 1.96 goals against average, and 20 shutouts. In his debut season of 2000-01, he finished second in Vezina voting behind Buffalo's Dominik Hasek as the NHL's best goaltender, then won a share of the William M. Jennings trophy in 2002-03 with teammate Robert Esche and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for the fewest goals allowed that season.
And he did this all after taking an unorthodox path to the NHL, winning gold at the Olympics with Czech Republic in 1998 as Hasek's backup, then getting picked up in the sixth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by Philadelphia already into his late 20s, where he went on to quickly (and surprisingly) capture the starting job in net soon after.
Cechmanek's NHL career, however, shined bright but burnt fast.
Following a shaky performance in the Flyers' second-round playoff series loss to Ottawa in 2003, Cechmanek was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he would play just one more season before returning home to the Czech Republic. He continued to play professionally there until officially retiring in 2009.
After hanging up the skates, Cechmanenk's post-hockey life became rife with financial issues that at one point had him facing fraud charges and the prospect of up to 10 years in prison.
Details surrounding Cechmanek's death are not yet known.
He is survived by his three children Jakub, Roman, and Katerina.
Keith Jones, the Flyers' President of Hockey Operations, released the following statement on Cechmanek's passing on behalf of the organization Sunday afternoon:
The Philadelphia Flyers are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of former goaltender Roman Cechmanek. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/GZio4HdjE7— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 12, 2023
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