Nedomansky was a hockey pioneer. He became the first player to defect from Eastern Europe to North America when he left Czechoslovakia to play with Toronto of the World Hockey Association in 1974.
By then, "Big Ned" was regarded by many as the best player in the world not in the NHL -- a 6-foot-2, 205-pound center who could dominate a game at his natural position and could also either play wing or drop back as a defenseman. He was a star for 12 seasons in the Czech Elite League, leading the league in goals and points three times (1966-67, 1971-72 and 1973-74). He was also a two-time Olympic medalist, helped Czechoslovakia win the IIHF World Championship in 1972 and was named best forward at the 1974 World Championship.