Early 2000s Flyers defenseman Michal Sykora was born July 5, 1973 in Pardubice, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). As a teenager, he came to North America to play junior hockey for the Western Hockey League's Tacoma Rockets, for whom he compiled 23 goals and 73 points in 70 games during the 1992-93 season. The San Jose Sharks drafted the 6-foot-5, 233-pound defenseman in the sixth round (123rd overall) of the 1992 NHL Draft.
After spending a season and a half gaining further seasoning in the minors, Sykora became a semi-regular starter in the NHL for the Sharks, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. He had significant bouts of inconsistency in his play but, in spurts, was an effective player. Internationally, Sykora played for Team Czech Republic at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Sykora returned home for the entire 1999-2000 season, enjoying a strong season for Sparta Prague in the Czech Extraliga. Thereafter, he played an excellent IIHF World Championship tournament for the gold medal winning Czechs, breaking loose for five goals and eight points in nine games.
Following his seeming breakthrough, there was revived interest in Sykora from multiple NHL teams. He chose the Flyers, signing a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 6, 2000. Sykora's time with the Flyers progressed much like his previous NHL stops. At times, he played quite well. At other times, he was rather mistake-prone. After a rough start, however, the defenseman's play improved until the injury bug bit several times (back issue, skate-induced laceration on his ribcage, pulled hamstring).
During the 2000-01 regular season, Sykora dressed in just 49 games for the Flyers. He chipped in five goals (one power play, one shorthanded), 11 goals, 16 points, 26 penalty minutes, a plus-nine rating, 45 credited hits, 58 blocked shots, 25 charged giveaways against 17 credited takeaways and an average 16:26 of ice time. Sykora dressed in all six games of the Flyers' first-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Sabres. His overall play in the series was generally sound and he saw a modest increase in ice time (18:11 per game) by simplifying his game.
In the summer of 2001, Sykora departed Philadelphia and the NHL permanently after 267 games in the league (15 goals, 54 assists, 69 points, 185 penalty minutes). He played the next four seasons for his hometown HC Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga before retiring.