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1984
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1984 NHL DRAFT PICK
Michal Pivonka
Selected in third round
No. 59 overall by Washington Capitals

Born January 28, 1966
Position: Center
Height: 6-2   Weight: 190
BEFORE THE DRAFT
Last Team: Jihlava (Czechoslovakia)                   
Birthplace: Kladno, Czechoslovakia
Hometown: Kladno, Czech Republic
PRE-DRAFT STATISTICS
Year TeamLeague GPG ATP PIM
1982-83 JihlavaCzech. Jr. ---- ---- --
1983-84 JihlavaCzech. Jr. ---- ---- --

PRE-DRAFT AWARDS AND HONORS
World Junior Championships:
1984 (bronze medal)
European Junior Championships: 1983 (bronze), 1984 (silver)
European Junior Championships All-Star First Team: 1983
NHL CAREER
Debut: October 9, 1986 (Washington at Pittsburgh)
Numbers:  20 (Washington)
Stanley Cup: Never won.  Playing Status: Retired 2000
CAREER NHL STATISTICS
Years TeamsGP GA TPPIM
1986-1999 Washington825 181418 599478
CAREER NHL PLAYOFF STATISTICS
YearsTeams GPG ATP PIM
1987-1998 Washington95 1936 5586

NHL AWARDS AND HONORS
Washington Records:
Most career assists (418)
Washington Points Leader: 1991-92 (80), 1995-96 (81)
Washington Assists Leader: 1991-92 (57), 1995-96 (65)
Washington Playoffs Points Leader: 1988 (13, tie)
Washington Playoffs Goals Leader: 1989 (3, tie), 1994 (4, tie),
1996 (3, tie)
1997-98: Played on Washington team that went to 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. Although he appeared in 13 playoff games, he missed the entire final series vs. Detroit due to injury.
Miscellaneous: Also played left wing for Washington during 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. ... Played on line with Bobby Gould and Gaetan Duchesne for Washington in 1986-87. ... Missed part of 1986-87 season with strained ligaments in ankle, an injury suffered while grappling with Steve Kasper during Washington's March 7, 1987, game at Boston. He did not return to action until Washington's March 20, 1987, game vs. Pittsburgh. ... Finished third among all NHL rookies with 15.4 percent shooting percentage in 1986-87. ... Finished seventh among all NHL rookies with 43 points in 1986-87. ... Missed part of 1987-88 season with sprained right wrist, an injury suffered in Washington's Oct. 19, 1987, game at N.Y. Rangers. He did not return to action until Washington's Oct. 27, 1987, game at Vancouver. ... Missed part of 1987-88 season with sprained left ankle, an injury suffered during Washington's March 18, 1988, game vs. N.Y Islanders. He did not return to action until Washington's March 29, 1988, game vs. Detroit. ... Missed part of 1989-90 season with sprained left knee, an injury suffered during Washington's March 9, 1990, game vs. Quebec. He did not return to action until Washington's March 13, 1990, game vs. St. Louis. ... Tied for Washington lead with 10 power-play goals and three shorthanded goals in 1989-90. ... Missed part of 1990 playoffs with kidney stone, which sidelined him after Game 2 of Washington's second-round series at N.Y. Rangers on April 21, 1990. He did not return to action until Game 2 of Washington's Wales Conference Finals series at Boston on May 5, 1990. ... Missed part of 1992-93 season with pulled groin, an injury suffered during Washington's Oct. 10, 1992, game vs. Philadelphia. He did not return to action until he convinced Capitals coach Terry Murray to let him play in Washington's Oct. 21, 1992, game at N.Y. Rangers. During that game, he re-aggravated the groin injury, and then did not return to action until Washington's Nov. 20, 1992, game vs. Detroit. ... Missed part of 1993-94 season with concussion, suffered during Washington's March 25, 1994, game at Detroit. ... Missed remainder of 1994 playoffs with groin injury, suffered during Game 1 of Washington's second-round series at N.Y. Rangers on May 1, 1994. ... Played on line with Peter Bondra for Washington in 1995, 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. ... Missed remainder of 1995 regular season with leg injury, suffered during Washington's April 30, 1995, game at Florida. He did not return to action until Game 1 of Washington's first-round playoff series at Pittsburgh on May 6, 1995. ... Named Washington Player of Month for December 1995. ... Had 65 assists for Washington in 1995-96 -- the second most assists by any Capitals player in one season (Dennis Maruk had 76 in 1981-82). ...  Passed Mike Gartner to become Washington's all-time assists leader during Capitals' Oct. 19, 1996, game at Pittsburgh. During that game, Pivonka recorded his 393rd career assist. ... Missed part of 1996-97 season with torn lateral meniscus in right knee, an injury suffered during Washington's Oct. 26, 1996, game at St. Louis. He did not return to action until Washington's Dec. 11, 1996, game at San Jose. ... Missed part of 1996-97 season with the flu, an illness contracted in March 1997. ... Missed remainder of 1996-97 season with concussion, suffered during Washington's March 26, 1997, game at Chicago. ... Missed part of 1997-98 season with broken left wrist, suffered in Washington's Oct. 23, 1997, game at Phoenix. Pivonka thought the wrist was sprained, and he returned for Washington's Nov. 4, 1997, game vs. Vancouver. On Nov. 11, 1997, after Pivonka continued to experience pain in the wrist, X-rays revealed it was broken. Pivonka did not return to action until Washington's Dec. 12, 1997, game at Anaheim. ... Missed part of 1997-98 season with pulled groin, an injury suffered in Washington's Feb. 7, 1998, game vs. Tampa Bay. He was placed on injured reserve on Feb. 28, 1998, and did not return to action until Washington's April 22, 1998, game vs. Boston. ... Missed remainder of 1998 playoffs shoulder injury, suffered during Game 2 of Washington's Eastern Conference Finals series vs. Buffalo. The injury required off-season surgery, and he did not return to action until his 1998-99 NHL regular-season debut in Washington's Dec. 23, 1998, game at Florida. ... Left Washington in 1999 ranked No. 2 on Washington's career points list (599), No. 3 on career games played list (825), No. 3 on career playoff games played list (95) and No. 3 on career playoff points list (55).
Pivonka's Holdout: Pivonka missed Washington's entire 1995 training camp and the start of the 1995-96 season due to a contract dispute with the Capitals. Pivonka's agent, Rich Winter, also represented the Capitals' Peter Bondra, and both players' contracts had expired after the 1995 season, making them Group II restricted free agents. Winter was looking to get substantial raises for both of his players, but he was unable to find any other NHL teams willing to sign them to offer sheets. Pivonka had earned $836,000 the previous season, and Winter was looking to take him well over $1 million per year. Early in the summer, Winter suggested both Bondra and Pivonka would hold out until Washington met his contract demands. By the time training camp opened in September 1995, it was clear neither player would be there. Winter and Capitals general manager David Poile had a sharp disagreement over some requests Winter had made of the team, and Winter had told Poile there would be no negotiations. By mid-September, Winter changed his tune, and allowed both Pivonka and Bondra to attend training camp -- but not to play any exhibition games --- while negotiations continued. But on Sept. 27, he abruptly pulled them away from the caps again, signing both to contracts with the IHL's Detroit Vipers. By sending his players to Detroit, Winter had hoped to gain leverage on the Caps. The Capitals were offering Pivonka a five-year contract worth $900,000 per season, while Winter was said to be asking for $1.5 million per season. Pivonka and Bondra opened the season in the IHL, playing seven games for the Vipers. On Oct. 20, Washington finally relented on Bondra, signing him to a five-year contract worth roughly $1.2 million per season (a 300 percent raise over his previous contract). With Bondra signed, it became easier to re-sign Pivonka. Within hours of the Bondra signing, the Pivonka deal was made for a five-year, $5 million incentive-laden contract that fell well short of Winter's goals, because Pivonka's salary did not reach $1 million until the third year of the deal. In addition, before Pivonka could return to the Capitals, Poile reportedly sat down with Pivonka for a four-hour lecture on why Pivonka needed to do more for the teams in terms of leadership. He made his 1995-96 NHL regular-season debut in Washington's Oct. 29, 1995, game at St. Louis.
NON-NHL CAREER
Post-Draft Teams: Jihlava (Czechoslovakia); Baltimore (AHL); Klagenfurt (Austria); Detroit (IHL); Kansas City (IHL)
Canada Cup: 1991 (sixth place)
World Championships: 1985 (gold medal), 1986 (fifth place)
World Jr. Championships: 1985 (silver medal), 1986 (fourth place)
NON-NHL AWARDS AND HONORS
Czechoslovakia Championship:
1985 (Jihlava)
World Junior Championships Best Forward: 1985
World Junior Championships All-Star First Team: 1985, 1986
Miscellaneous: Led Czechoslovakia with 13 points and nine goals in 1985 World Junior Championships. ... Tied for Czechoslovakia team lead with five goals in 1986 World Junior Championships. ... Was on Washington team that held 1989 training camp in Sweden before joining Calgary for 1989 NHL Friendship Tour in Soviet Union. The Capitals faced four Soviet teams on the tour. ... Played in Austria during the 1994-95 NHL lockout. ... Signed with Kansas City (IHL) as an unrestricted free agent on Sept. 27, 1999. ... Worked at Washington Capitals hockey school during off-seasons of his early playing days. ... Was active in charitable causes during his playing days, including his joint effort with Peter Bondra to set up a fund-raising campaign for the Children's Hospital and the Children's Inn at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md. ... Avid tennis player.
Pivonka's Defection: Washington gambled when it drafted Pivonka in 1984 because he would not be allowed to leave Czechoslovakia without permission from the Czech authorities -- permission that was unlikely to be granted from the Iron Curtain nation. But two years later the Capitals' gamble paid off when Pivonka daringly defected and eventually arrived in Washington on July 18, 1986. Escaping his home country wasn't easy for Pivonka and fiancee, Renata Nekvindova, but while on vacation in Yugoslavia, they managed to defect by sneaking over to Trieste, Italy, and then going straight to Rome. They had been cleared to do this by Washington general manager David Poile and Jack Button, the Caps' director of player personnel, who kept in touch with Pivonka for the full two years after the 1984 draft, even traveling to Sweden to meet Pivonka while the latter was there for a tournament. It was Button who convinced Pivonka that he would have a better life in North America. By December 1985, at the World Juniors in Hamilton, Ontario, Button and Poile met Pivonka and secretly agreed on a five-year contract that would take effect if he could defect in July 1986. Once they got to Rome, Pivonka and Nekvindova were given temporary refugee status by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, enabling them to fly to New York. They then went to Washington, and four days later, on July 22, the Capitals held a news conference to introduce Pivonka to the local media. Pivonka refused to comment on his "personal reasons" for leaving Czechoslovakia, and his arrival in the U.S. was something of a minor international incident, because a spokesman for his country's embassy in Washington criticized the Capitals for not attempting to get Pivonka through legal channels.

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SNAPSHOT '84
Total Selected: 250
Forwards: 142
Defense: 88
Goaltenders: 20
Major Junior: 110
Tier II/Jr. B: 16/9
College Players: 23
High School: 47
Midget: 4
U.S. Junior B: 1
Canadian: 145
Euro-Canadian: 2
USA Citizens: 62
U.S.-Born: 63
European: 41
Reached NHL: 102
Stanley Cup: 20
Hall of Fame: 1
All-Star Game: 18
Year-end All-Star: 7
Olympians: 31
 
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