Leon Draisaitl is a pretty big deal as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, second only to Connor McDavid on the marquee here, but he’s flat-out getting the rock star treatment at home in Germany, where the Oilers will play the Cologne Sharks Wednesday.
That’s been one of the obvious stories coming out since the Oilers jumped a jet for Germany after Saturday’s 4-3 pre-season win over the Calgary Flames. Part of that angle is that the Sharks, or Kolner Haie over there, are coached by Draisaitl’s dad, Peter. This game, and every second Leon spends back home, has to be a source of pride for both of them. One of those feel-good stories.
Part of the father-son angle that grabs me – let’s face it, the game doesn’t matter nearly as much as the Oilers’ regular season opener Saturday against New Jersey in Gothenburg, Sweden – is laid out nicely in a piece by NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika, who was at the game Saturday against the Flames and made the trip to Germany.
From Cotsonika: Leon Draisaitl was a little boy when his father, Peter, took him to the rink in Cologne, Germany. It was 6 in the morning on a Sunday. Dressed for the cold outside, sweating from the warmth inside, Peter put on his son’s hockey equipment for him. “Then he looked at me and started crying,” Peter said. “He said, ‘No, I don’t want to go out there. I want to go home.’ ” Peter laughed. It’s funny to look back on that now. Leon is the face of German hockey and is coming home with the Edmonton Oilers to play the team Peter coaches . . .
HERE AND NOW
From wanting to go home as a little guy to leaving home at 16 to play for the Prince Albert Raiders and, eventually, being drafted by the Oilers, Draisaitl’s done plenty to make papa proud so far. As it turns out, Wednesday’s game between the Oilers and Sharks will mark the first time Peter has coached with or against his son in a game. Peter has never been his coach at any level during all the time both have spent on the ice since that first spin.
“His hockey life, his hockey career, is pretty much entirely up to him,” said Peter, who played 18 professional seasons in Germany. “I wish him well. I wish him all the best in the world. But as a father, most important thing is that he stays a good person. He’s a good boy.
“Basically I was just a hockey dad,” Peter said. “My wife, Sandra, was a hockey mom, driving all over the country, driving him to the games. Of course he was asking after the game, ‘Papa, was I good? Was I bad?’ But it’s gone. It’s gone by now.” You can find full story from Cotsonika here.
I love a back-story like this one. I’m guessing Draisaitl and the Oilers will give the old man no end of problems trying to keep his Sharks competitive against the visiting NHL outfit. This game shouldn’t be close, but that’ll take a backseat to Peter watching his son roaring up and down the ice at Lanxess Arena.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- There’ll be some familiar faces in Cologne’s line-up Wednesday in former Oilers Ryan Jones, Corey Potter and tough guy Steve Pinizotto. Jones, a popular player here after coming over from Nashville as a waiver pick-up and playing 247 games over parts of four seasons with the Oilers, is in his fifth season with Cologne.
- Ty Rattie was back on the ice with the Oilers today after sitting out the game against the Flames with an undisclosed injury. It looks like Kris Russell, who also sat out Saturday, and Adam Larsson, who left the Calgary game when his back tightened up, won’t play against Cologne.
- Today is Igor Ulanov’s 49th birthday. He could still crush most of us with one hand tied behind his back.