The bad news came for German ice hockey fans before it was even clear whether Leon Draisaitl could go to the World Cup. That would be possible if the best German attacker with the Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from the play-offs in the National Hockey League (NHL), which in turn is only possible on Saturday night at the earliest.
In the first of seven group games of the Germans against Canada on Friday (7.20 p.m., Sport 1), Draisaitl would not have played in any case, but he will not come to the tournament in Finland either, the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) has already said that clear.
Of course, if eliminated, there’s a role for the Oilers who don’t want their superstar to get hurt. And so the DEB plays a role again, because he may not be able to shell out the handsome sum insured for Draisaitl. From a sporting point of view, it is bitter for the DEB team that the best player has not played for the national team for three years now, but the external image for German ice hockey and this sport in general is more fatal.
Since the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the best possible national teams have not been fielded at any tournament in world ice hockey. Eight years without a tournament of the really best. What kind of team sport can say something like that?
This sad circumstance is probably solely due to the self-importance of the NHL, but it is not criticized from the scene for reasons of structural dependency, rather the world association IIHF is courting for its favor: In Finland, the ice is smaller than usual in Europe , which suits the NHL stars. The bolting on the narrow ice are used to.
Some greats are coming to the tournament in Finland, especially with the European teams, the Swiss for example, where young star Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils) is in the squad. The attacker was the first in the so-called draft in the NHL five years ago.
And then it is – understandably – also the first World Cup without Russia since 1953, a year later the Soviets took part in a World Cup for the first time. After the boring Olympic tournament in Beijing without the big names, there is now a World Cup tournament with mainly medium-sized players among the players. It will bother the Finns less. Ice hockey is the number one sport in Finland and excitement in the country of the current Olympic champion will be great at the games in Tampere and Helsinki.
Where the journey for the German team is going after the strange Olympic appearance in Beijing is an exciting matter, especially since without the international superstar in sports (Draisaitl), who is unknown in Germany (Draisaitl), there are still a few strong players from the NHL in the DEB team – and possibly nor can John Jason Peterka and Lukas Reichel, who are employed in the lower-class AHL; this will be less expensive for the DEB than with Draisaitl.
The Canadian team is a tough opponent for the Germans at the start, the North Americans almost only have players from the NHL in their squad, but more from the second or third row. The only NHL goalie in the squad should be Chris Driedger in goal. He is the second goalkeeper for the Seattle Kraken, behind Philipp Grubauer. So the two can wave to each other on Friday, because luckily for national coach Toni Söderholm, Grubauer is in Finland.
The substitute goalkeepers Mathias Niederberger (still Berlin) and Justin Strahlmeier (Wolfsburg) are also impressive, which does not diminish the hopes of the German team. They are used to having to do without Leon Draisaitl. And as Toni Söderholm said so beautifully recently: “Let’s talk about those who are there. And not about those who are not there.”