With the No. 17 pick at the 1981 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres selected wing Jiri Dudacek, the son of a high-ranking member of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party. Despite the Sabres' best efforts to bring over the young star, Dudacek never played a game with Buffalo.
For NHL general managers, it was the latest reminder not to waste a high pick on a player from a communist country.
During the Cold War, when players from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were restricted by their governments from playing professionally in the West, it was next to impossible for a team to add these players to its roster. If a team wanted to risk it, it could use a 10th- or 11th-round selection on a player from behind the Iron Curtain, but never a top pick.
That all changed in 1992.