Roman Cechmanek, former Flyers goalie and 2001 Vezina Trophy finalist, dies at 52

Former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Roman Cechmanek died on Sunday at age 52 in his native Czech Republic, the team announced. No cause of death was released.

Cechmanek played four seasons in the NHL, the first three with the Flyers from 2000-03. But in that time in Philadelphia, he was voted to the 2021 NHL All-Star Game, named a Vezina Trophy finalist as the league’s top goalie later that year, and twice selected the Bobby Clarke Trophy winner as team most valuable player.

“The Philadelphia Flyers are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of former goaltender Roman Cechmanek,” president of hockey operations Keith Jones said in a statement from the team. “A late-round draft pick, Cechmanek spent three seasons with the team from 2000 through 2003 where he was highly successful and made an instant impact to our club on the ice and in the locker room.

“Beyond his numbers, which were outstanding, he was beloved by fans and teammates for his personality, distinct style and pride in stopping the puck. He led the Flyers to three straight playoff appearances, two 100-point seasons and an Atlantic Division title, while also being a part of a remarkable tandem with Robert Esche to win the NHL’s William M. Jennings Trophy awarded to the  goaltenders with the fewest goals scored against during the regular season in 2002-03.

“His passing at too young of an age is heartbreaking to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

The Flyers selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 NHL draft. He went 35-15-6 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .921 save percentage and 10 shutouts that first season and was an all-star.

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He posted career bests with a 1.83 GAA and .925 save percentage in 2002-03, when he and Esche were awarded the Jennings Trophy.

The Flyers traded Cechmanek in May 2003 to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2004 second-round draft pick, which was later dealt to Chicago in a transaction that brought Alexei Zhamnov to the Flyers in 2003-04.

Cechmanek finished his NHL career with a 110-64-28 record, 2.08 GAA, .919 save percentage and 25 shutouts in 212 games. He later played professionally in Germany and Sweden.

According to the Flyers news release, Cechmanek returned to Czechia after his NHL career and became a youth hockey coach. He was divorced and survived by two sons and one daughter.

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