Czech ice hockey great Augustin Bubnik dies at 88

PRAGUE -- Czech ice hockey great Augustin Bubnik, whose international career was abruptly ended by communist persecution, died Tuesday. He was 88.

The Czech Ice Hockey Association announced on its website that the former left winger died after a long-term illness, without elaborating.

Bubnik helped Czechoslovakia take the silver medal at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and win the world championship in Stockholm the following year.

The core of the national team was arrested by communist authorities before its departure for the worlds in London in 1950. In a political trial, the charges against Bubnik included espionage and treason. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison and forced to work in the notorious uranium mines in Jachymov.

He was released in 1955 after a presidential pardon and returned to ice hockey but was never allowed to play for the national team again.

After retiring, Bubnik became a coach. He managed Finland from 1966 to 1969.

After the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution, Bubnik served as a member of Parliament from 1998 to 2002.

He was inducted into the Finnish (2003) and the Czech (2008) halls of fame.