Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grabner Called Up

The Canucks announced today that
Michael Grabner has been recalled from Manitoba.

Grabner is 22 and is one of the few hockey products out of Austria. He played in Austria until coming over to the Dub to play for the Spokane Chiefs. He was then selected 14th overall in the 2006 Entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks.

This year, he has had 4 goals in the last 7 periods of play with the Moose, which made a strong case for why he was to be the one called up for Friday night. He took the red-eye here, and found himself practising on the top line with Burrows and Henrik. He was practising on the 2nd powerplay unit with Kes and Wellwood. This is going to be Grabner's NHL debut for the Canucks and there's a lot of pressure on him to prove to the Canucks management and fans that he was a good draft pick as opposed to a bust. It's good to see that he knows what is at stake for him here: "They're great set-up guys and should be a lot of fun to play with. It just up to me to make the most out of it. It's been a long time coming."-The Province

I'm really hoping that he'll do well. In addition to wanting him to be play well to because he is a Canuck, I have another reason that I want him to succeed.

Bear with me here, I'm gonna go off on a tangent, then attempt to tie it in to hockey.

So back in the day, Austria and Hungary used to be one joined together called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now after WWI, the dual state was dissolved following their military defeat. Anyways, during the dissolution, the empire got chopped up into tiny countries, and their boarders re-drawn. So the effect of the re-drawn boarders, treaties that were drawn up by the Allies (very one-sided) caused devastating political and economic effects on the new countries.

So some of my family is from the different little countries in the former empire, ie. Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and I've had long discussions with them about the impact of the the changes on sport, specifically hockey.
Hockey is an expensive sport. Not only do you have to pay a ton for equipment, but you also have to have the location, ie. rink to be able to play. It is not like football/foci (soccer to you North Americans) where you can play anywhere, no hockey is a sport that required money, and the building to do it in. And those countries didn't have either, money or facilities for sport. That's why you don't see a lot of Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian etc players, because those kids didn't have the opportunity to play hockey growing up, but a lot of them really do love the sport. So for me, it's great to see a young Austrian getting a chance to play in the NHL. It was also awesome to see Hungary make an appearance at the World Cup last year, even though their team was made up of players that also had day jobs. They ended up losing to Canada 9-0, but they were just happy to be there and play.

So, the point to this rambling is to say how proud I am to see young kids like Grabner with talent and a shot at a chance to be in the NHL. It shows how far hockey has come along in places like Austria or Hungary and makes me hopeful for the future of hockey in those countries. So I'll be pulling for Grabner on Friday night hoping that he does well in his Canuck audition and maybe, if he scores, I'll make some Kaiserschmarrn to celebrate.

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