Announced first by Denik Sport, former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Roman Cechmanek has passed away at the age of 52. Circumstances following his passing are not yet known, but the goaltender reportedly fell ill on Saturday and was unable to be reached the following day and was later found by one of his sons.
Cechmanek was a late draftee to the NHL, being taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers at the age of 29. To that point, Cechmanek had played seven seasons in his native Czech Republic. Having that experience allowed him to step right into the NHL. He would surprise most by taking the starting goaltending role from Brian Boucher, appearing in 59 games that season. He put up solid numbers as well, posting a 35-15-6 record to go along with his 2.01 GAA and .921 SV%. Cechmanek also had 10 shutouts in his first season as well.
He would appear in his first All-Star Game and finished second in Vezina voting that season. His .921 SV% was technically second only to Doug Favell’s .931 SV% during his first season back in the 1967-68 season. But at the age of 29, he was considered too old to be a rookie. The numbers are still impressive nonetheless. He put up another strong season the following year, going 24-13-6 in 46 games played. His GAA slipped ever so slightly to 2.05, but he posted the same exact SV% as his rookie season. He added in four shutouts as well. But his first two years weren’t even considered his best.
At the age of 30, Cechmanek put together a career year in his third season with the Flyers. He went 33-15-10 in 58 games. He posted an impressive 1.83 GAA and jumped up to a .925 SV%. He also had six shutouts. Cechmanek would share the William M. Jennings award with teammate Robert Esche and New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. However, he would finish seventh in Vezina voting that season. Despite his strong performances, Cechmanek would end up being traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the end of the season.
In what would be his last season in the NHL, Cechmanek had his worst year in the league on a Kings team that wasn’t good as an entire unit. In 49 games, he would finish with an 18-21-6 record to go with his career-worst 2.51 GAA and .906 SV%. He still managed to record five shutouts that season, though. Cechmanek would return overseas to finish out his career between the Czech and German leagues. He would end up posting a career-best .948 SV% during the 2006-07 season in Czechia’s top league.
While his NHL career was short lived, Cechmanek was still one of the best goaltenders the Flyers had despite only spending three seasons in Philadelphia.