by Patrick Hoffman on 12/16/09 at 03:40 PM ET
From Jamie Rivers at friend of the blog MaxHockey.com:
It has been way too long since my last entry and of course there have been some changes. The biggest change has been the fact that I have signed with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss Elite A league. This will be my first experience in Europe and I am calling this season “The Swiss Experiment”.
It all happened rather quickly. I was back home in St. Louis skating with the NAHL’s St.Louis Bandits who are owned by former Blues winger Kelly Chase and are coached by former Blues defenseman Jeff Brown….You see where this is going right?
Well they are three peat champions of their league and therefore provided me with the highest level of practice available. I was waiting for either a two-way contract offer from the NHL or a legitimate AHL contract, neither were coming very fast….Then one day I receive an e-mail from our European agents saying that there is interest in Switzerland, by this point (end of November) I am very interested in hearing what hey have to say. Well things moved along very quickly and 5 days later I was in Ambri-Piotta about to experience some firsts of my career….and after 14 years I don’t get to say that very often.
My first day at the rink was quite memorable…mostly because our home arena is open air at the ends of the rink…….therefore if it is freezing outside, it’s freezing inside. It’s really quite a sight. To see the mountains and snow from center ice is actually pretty wild to look at. Some of my teammates opt to wear toques (winter hats) under their helmets as I’m sure they are afraid that their ears might fall off. The hockey is played at an incredible speed over here and the players are very talented….they also use the size of the ice very well (Olympic ice). All of my new teammates are very welcoming and have made me feel at home right away. The fact that all of them speak English or at least understand it is huge. They also speak quite a bit of French over here and being that I am completely bilingual in French and English helps immensely.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.