On Wednesday morning, when most people in Germany were asleep, Leon Drysittel in remote Denver, Colorado, USA once again set a record.
In the first semifinal match of the Edmonton Oilers series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Cologne native once again scored two points, for the sixth consecutive time in the playoffs. Nobody in the National Hockey League (NHL) did that before Draisaitl.
26-year-old Leon Drysitl is considered the best ice hockey player in the world, but that doesn’t matter in his homeland. His level of consciousness is surprisingly low. But there are reasons for this, and interestingly enough, the NHL itself is partly to blame.
“If you’re not seen, you don’t exist,” said hockey coach Don Jackson, a former Oilers player in their glory days in the ’80s. This is especially true in the case of Draisaitl: if the sport of ice hockey has received more public attention outside its fan bubble than usual in recent years, the national team has also participated: in the 2018 Olympic silver medalist, millions of people also woke up at night To express their joy.
Or in 2021, when there was a fourth place at the World Cup in Riga, the odds are good – or more recently at the Olympics in Beijing. Draisaitl hasn’t been around every time, he was recently in the Germany squad for the 2019 World Cup – and it could have been the last time for him in the national shirt for so long.
If Draisaitl can play in the World Cup, the veto will come
The World Cup is held when the best teams in the NHL are still playing in the playoffs. And for the Olympics, the North American Pro League stopped playing in 2014. They haven’t measured hockey against their top national teams in eight years – a sad sign for the sport that plays a bigger role in the northern hemisphere.
If Draisaitl can play in the World Cup – as in 2021 – his NHL club will veto that. because of the risk of injury. Or the star’s participation fails because the sum insured is simply not within the reach of the German Ice Hockey Federation.
Now the NHL can rightly be accused of selfishness, in fact the biggest hockey league in the world only cares about the rest of the hockey world when it comes to scouting young talent to play in the NHL. Of course, this is strange from a marketing point of view. The NBA, which operates more subtly around the world, is arousing much more interest in Europe and also in Germany than in the NHL.
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The latter somehow tries to conquer the European market every few years through friendlies (“World Series”) disguised as a great event. For example, the San Jose Sharks come to Berlin on the 4th of October – with absolutely exorbitant ticket prices for a test match.
If you ask the Berlin Sharks who know their players, they will likely lose their faith. A German ice hockey fan still prefers his own team, his own stadium experience, to what happens thousands of kilometers west, mostly at night in North America in Colorado or Edmonton.
Sports TV with Leon Drystel does not exist
Leon Drystel is rare in Germany. Two years ago, after being named the NHL Player of the Year, he checked out whatever was on his summertime TV related hours. The Cologne native also appeared to be very intelligent, but it is not entirely clear what he represented.
That was a little different with Dirk Nowitzki, who spent his career only abroad and in the NBA. The basketball player was and still is an advertising medium in Germany. There are no TV ads with Leon Draisaitl.
His childhood friend Frederic Teefels, a professional ice hockey player in Munich says: “The Lyon route became clear. I think what he does there is incredible. I am really happy for him. If you believe in dreams, there will be a lot more.”
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Draisaitl would probably only be well known at home if he had successfully played for the team at the Olympics or the World Cup – but that didn’t happen. At least he can work on his already huge reputation in North America if the German striker actually manages to fulfill his big dream of winning the Stanley Cup this year.
The Oilers lost the first game of their best of seven series in Colorado 6-8 in the Halligali game on Wednesday. Then Leon Drysittle said, “Shake it once, adjust a few things, and then we’ll be better.”
Lots of people in the USA and Canada will surely be watching it, but it should be different here: The second semi-final game in Colorado will take place Friday morning at 2am.