Der Musterknabe by Klaus Zaugg, published Wednesday October 3, 2012 on 20 Minuten Online
The subject should actually be the crisis. The SCB has won only three of the first eight games, is classified 7th and the next game on Friday is already a fight against the line [eight qualify for the playoffs]. But all this can not spoil the good mood: party mood instead of a hangover.
For the third time in a row Wednesday will be a SCB holiday. Mark Streit has been presented two weeks ago, Roman Josi one week ago and now John Tavares. Three NHL players in two weeks and the SCB still has three import licences at its disposal. If the NHL season doesn't start, more than likely at least one more licence will be utilized for another NHL player.
Now then, John Tavares. He is a poster boy through and through, like straight from a Canada brochure: modest, hard-working, without airs and graces despite his 6 year 33 million $ contract. A contract that the SCB has to insure. Insurance costs are nearly 50.000 fr. [ 53.655 $] per month, but what about the salary? John Tavares says that it's important to him that the contract is insured and that he can play. For the first time since he was three, he didn't play in September.
100.000 francs per month
Can we also say that he plays as a professional first and foremost just for the love of the game? The lad is no fool. He senses the controversy in the reporter's question and says that he always plays for the love of the game. Well, he'll still likely receive a small compensation from the SCB. All taxes and expenses included, Tavares' cost should be around 100.000 fr. [107.311 $] per month. But the potential savings should not be overlooked: perhaps the arrival of the Canadian NHL star will prevent coach Antti Törmänen's firing and subsequent pay-out.
John Tavares, why did you choose the SCB? "I have heard many good things about this organisation and I know Switzerland from my Team Canada appearances. As the lockout loomed, I spoke with Mark Streit about the situation and it was clear to me that I would play with Mark in Bern. I haven't considered any other option.
According to Tavares Streit didn't want to go to the ZSC Lions
Bern from the very beginning? Didn't Mark Streit, before his return to Switzerland, diplomatically say that he still had to decide whether to play for his former team the ZSC Lions or the SC Bern? We only talked about Bern. Mark told me he had to play in his hometown."
The 34-year-old Streit is captain, the 22-year-old Tavares, with 81 points in 82 games, is New York Islanders' top scorer (Streit: 47 points in 82 games). The down-to-earth Bernese and the grounded Canadian poster boy have become friends. For the time being, the two will live in Mark Streit's condo in Elfenau, one of the most beautiful residential areas of the city. Tavares will certainly feel little desire to move into a hotel and Streit will surely be generous enough to not ask for any rent.
The Canadian is looking forward to the fan culture
Bern's new hero landed in Kloten [Zurich Airport] Tuesday morning at 6.30 am. He then completed a first ice training. In the evening he also experienced the 1:3 defeat in Fribourg. John Tavares talks about his first long SCB day like only a poster boy would. He was very well received. He was impressed by the fans' passion and the spectators' enthusiasm is a distinctive characteristic of Swiss hockey. "I've already experienced it last spring while playing for Team Canada in Fribourg."
He has also already heard of Bern's very special fan culture and he is happy to play here. John Tavares will debut Friday in Zug and will play for the first time in the Bernese hockey temple Saturday against Servette. After the first ice practice with the team it's still not clear with whom he'll play. In the SCB locker room he sits between backup goalie Olivier Gigon and forward Flurin Randegger.
"I'll give my best"
What can we expect from John Tavares? To date he has scored 202 points in 243 NHL games and last season he had an average of almost a point per game. Can we expect the same here in the NLA? John Tavares: "I haven't played a game since the World Championships and have to work me into the team first. Practice can not replace a game and players here already have the preparation and several games behind them. At first I'll try to play as simple as possible. I'll give my best."
A player who complains about pressure doesn't even get close to the NHL. The adjustment to a bigger ice rink shouldn't be a problem for the new SCB forward. Not later than in three games he'll score two points per game.
Now it's Antti Törmänen's turn
In its history (since 1931) the SC Bern has never had a nominally better team. Meanwhile, former Team Switzerland defenceman Martin Höhener has been lent to Ambrì Piotta, because the SCB didn't have any room on the ice for him. If the kind loser Antti Törmänen can't move up in the rankings with Streit, Josi and Tavares there are three options for CEO Mark Lüthi:
First: Convince his friends to hire another NHL star. Two import licences would still be available for emergencies.
Second: He fires Antti Törmänen, who he employed last October against GM Sven Leuenberger's will, and gets a new coach. Coach firings are a boss' matter in Bern.
Third: He fires Antti Törmänen, climbs down from his VIP box and coaches the team himself. Mayor Alex Tschäppät would applaud him for sure.