Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Not yet a super power in the mold of Canada, Russia and the United States, but never a pushover by any means, the German Ice Hockey Association (DEB) is preparing in earnest to leave its mark on the hockey world in 2009-10.

On Monday, 32 players opened a five-day summer camp in Fussen, Germany that is billed as the initial evaluation for the Olympic Winter Games as well as the 2010 IIHF World Championships, which will be hosted by the German cities of Cologne, Mannheim and Gelsenkirchen from May 7-23.

All the invitees are from member clubs of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) except for defenseman Justin Krueger, who plays in the NCAA for Cornell and was a 2006 seventh-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. Krueger, who scored one goal and five points in 35 games as a junior for the Big Red in 2008-09, is the son of Switzerland's national coach, Ralph Krueger.

Last season, there were seven German-born and trained players in the NHL, but none will be at the Fussen camp due to insurance reasons after discussions between the skaters and the German officials. Last week, the NHL Players' Association sent a letter to national hockey federations and players expressing concern that camp participants could be at risk due to lack of insurance. The NHLPA doesn't believe the federations are providing enough insurance to cover players' current contracts. NHL teams are not responsible for insuring their players at Olympic events.

The only player in Germany's camp with previous NHL experience is Kazakhstan-born goaltender Dimitri Patzold, who appeared in three games with the San Jose Sharks in 2007-08. Patzold also played 146 contests in the American Hockey League with a career record of 55-70-5-6. Michael Wolf, a forward who scored 27 goals and 55 points in 52 games for the Iserlohn Roosters last season, is the highest scoring German-born player in camp. He placed seventh in scoring in the DEL.

The final 23-man Olympic roster does not have to be filed with the IIHF until Dec. 31, so coach Uwe Krupp and other German officials will have the opportunity to scout the missing players when the next NHL season begins. But players like Marco Sturm, Jochen Hecht, Dennis Seidenberg, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Christoph Schubert and Thomas Greiss hardly need to vie for a roster spot. The insurance issue also means defenseman Robert Dietrich (Nashville), winger Philip Gogulla (Buffalo) and center Felix Schutz (Buffalo), all under NHL contract, will not be in Fussen.

Krupp, a defenseman who played 15 seasons in the NHL and was the first German to win the Stanley Cup (Colorado, 1996), was an Olympian at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, the first in which NHLers were allowed to participate. Sturm is the only NHL German to play in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Games. He has scored two goals and four points in 13 games.

Germany's 2006 NHL Olympians were Ehrhoff, Goc, Olaf Kolzig, Schubert and Seidenberg. Kolzig, the South African-born goaltender with 303 career NHL victories, is currently a free agent and at 39-years-old may not play again following a serious arm injury last season while with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Without these established stars, several players from Germany's Under-20 national team were added to the camp roster. The DEB Web site states the camp will include 11 on-ice training sessions which will be comprised of systems, reinforcement of individual abilities and talents and team building. Additionally, there will be off-ice activities and physicals.

"I'm looking forward to welcome the players in Fussen," Krupp said on the DEB Web site. "All the players prepared themselves conscientiously as the tests have shown, and we didn't have a single refusal. All players are committed to work hard to make the roster."

German Summer Camp roster

Goaltenders (5): Dennis Endras (Augsburg), Dimitri Patzold (Ingolstadt), Jochen Reimer (Wolfsburg), Sebastian Stefaniszin (Iserlohn), Youri Ziffzer (Hannover)

Defensemen (12): Michael Bakos (Ingolstadt), Jens Baxmann (Berlin), Nikolai Goc (Hannover), Frank Hordler (Berlin), Korbinian Holzer (Dusseldorf), Justin Krueger (Cornell University), Moritz Muller (Koln), Sebastian Osterloh (Frankfurt), Andre Reiss (Hannover), Denis Reul (Mannheim), Benedikt Schopper (Krefeld), Steffen Tolzer (Augsburg)

Forwards (15): Alexander Barta (Hamburg), Constantin Braun (Berlin), Michael Hackert (Mannheim), Kai Hospelt (Wolfsburg), Marcus Kink (Mannheim), Manuel Klinge (Kassel), Frank Mauer (Mannheim), Ulrich Maurer (Augsburg), Marcel Muller (Koln), Thomas Oppenheimer (Frankfurt), Elia Ostwald (Hamburg), Andre Rankel (Berlin), Yannic Seidenberg (Mannheim), Alexander Weiss (Berlin), Michael Wolf (Iserlohn)

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