Tomas Plekanec Wins Gold Behind The Bench For Czechia at World Hockey Championship

Tomas Plekanec won his first World Hockey Championship gold by helping out Czechia as an assistant coach.
Switzerland v Czech Republic - Final - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia
Switzerland v Czech Republic - Final - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

Tomas Plekanec may not be a professional hockey player anymore, but that doesn't mean he can't find a way to contribute to the game. Plekanec couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a coach on the Czechia National Team with them hosting the Men's World Hockey Championship this year, and the move paid off, as he won his first-ever WHC Gold Medal. Plekanec won his first medal at the World Championship in 2006, earning a silver in Latvia. He followed that up with bronze medals in 2011 and 2012 in Slovakia and Finland. Plekanec didn't participate in many World Championships due to the Habs' success through the 2000s-2010s.

After Tomas Plekanec returned to Montreal to play his 1,000th NHL game, he and the Canadiens agreed to mutually terminate his contract so that he could retire from the NHL. Plekanec set his sights on returning to Czechia and playing in the Czech Extraliga. He played with HC Kometa Brno for the first two seasons while appearing in the Czech Second League with his former team, Kladno. The Kladno team is owned by Jaromir Jagr. Plekanec returned to them full-time in 2020-21, playing in 33 games, tallying 34 points, and helping them earn promotion into the top league. Plekanec played two seasons in the Extraliga with Kladno, recording 102 points in 108 games. He started the 2023-24 season but retired after nine games due to health issues, paving the way for his position on the Czechia bench.

A Coaching Future for Tomas Plekanec?

Tomas Plekanec was a great professional during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. He was a gentlemanly player and made plenty of friends in the game. His friendship with Jaromir Jagr led him to join the legend and get Kladno promoted to the Czech Extraliga. Jagr still owns the team, and Plekanec stayed around the team after his retirement. If Plekanec wants to continue his coaching career, the team will welcome him with open arms. 

Plekanec has a deep connection to his home country, as he often returned home after the NHL season was over, and never turned down an opportunity to wear the red, blue, and white (even in the NHL). Plekanec even played roller hockey for the Czechia National Team at times in his career.

It's unlikely that Plekanec would consider coming to North America to become a coach, so don't start having visions of him standing alongside Martin St. Louis. Plekanec cut his NHL career short to return to Czechia, so he will likely stay there to begin his coaching career. I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the bench for next year's World Hockey Championship and at the 2026 Winter Olympics. There's no visible bench where he would fit in the NHL other than his roots in Montreal, as not many former teammates are in head coaching positions.

It'd be fun to see Plekanec pop up on a bench with a former coach some time. Could he be a fit if Claude Julien ever returns to the NHL? The two-time Canadiens coach was a candidate for the Ottawa Senators position last season, meaning he may be looking for another job. Another option could be Kirk Muller, who was his assistant coach twice. Players normally have a better relationship with the assistant coach, so Muller could give Plekanec a look if he ever gets another job.