After the news broke last week of Rick Nash and Joe Thornton rejoining HC Davos during the NHL lockout, the same team they played for in 2004/5, other North-American players have followed suit, joining the two in the Swiss NLA.
Tyler Seguin has chosen EHC Biel as his hockey destination. The 20-year-old, who only signed a 6 year contract extension with the Boston Bruins just before the lockout began, is expected to arrive in Switzerland within the next few days to start training with the club who call the 7000 capacity Eisstadion Biel home.
Jason Spezza recently announced his decision to join the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers who play in the St Gallen area of Switzerland. Spezza will skate alongside former NHL players, goaltender David Aebischer, Derrick Walser (Columbus) and Robbie Earl (Toronto and Minnesota). The signing of a player like Spezza is a major coup for the relatively small club of Rapperswil-Jona with the player admitting he is looking forward to just playing, not chasing the money;
“I’m pretty much going over there for free (due to the insurance costs), I get a chance to play some games and hopefully that’s an advantage for me. Last lockout, I tried to make the most of a bad situation and I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation again.”
Logan Couture, star player of the San Jose Sharks has chosen a different path than his Sharks team-mate and now HC Davos player Joe Thornton, opting to play for the French-Swiss team HC Genève-Servette (Genf in German, Geneva in English). The team, known for it’s passionate fans, has enjoyed rare success in the past few years, finishing as runner-up in the NLA championship in both the 2008 and 2010 seasons.
Two other players announcing a move to the Swiss NLA are friends Jared Spurgeon and Tyler Ennis. Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild and Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres have both signed deals with the Bern region team SCL Tigers. The decision was made easy for the two who grew up in Edmonton together and have always wanted an opportunity to play for the same team.
Besides the North-American stars moving to the NLA, several Swiss nationals are moving back home during the lockout;
- Damien Brunner of the Detroit Red Wings rejoins former club EV Zug
- Raphael Diaz of the Montreal Canadiens joins EV Zug
- Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators joins SC Bern
- Luca Sbisa of the Anaheim Ducks joins HC Lugano
- Mark Streit of the New York Islanders joins SC Bern
- Yannick Weber of the Montreal Canadiens joins HC Genève-Servette
The two biggest signings so far in Switzerland, Joe Thornton and Rick Nash have just played their first game for Davos with Nash scoring 3 goals and Thornton registering 4 assists in a 9-2 victory over the Lakers. The players have now also been added to the official HC Davos team listing on the website http://hcdavos.ch/spieler.php with shirts and jerseys featuring the two player names already available for purchase.