Nino Niederreiter: "I don't belong there"

The Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten made an interesting interview with Nino Niederreiter.

It's in German, so I translated it for you. While I tried to be accurate, please bear in mind that English is not my first language.

Nino Niederreiter, was it hard to leave the NHL?

It was very hard to say goodbye to my newly gained friends; but I felt that it would get this far and I was not surprised by the decision to send me back to juniors.

When did you feel you would not play in the NHL this season?

After the sixth game, I realized my spot in the team was only temporary. With players like Kyle Okposo, Trent Hunter and Rob Schremp recovering from injury, it was clear to me that I would end up in the third or fourth line. A goalscorer like me doesn't belong there. A goalscorer needs linemates who can feed good passes. Even the best NHL teams don't have such players in the bottom forward lines. So I knew how my immediate future would look like.

What did you learn in nine NHL games with the New York Islanders?

I learned that in the NHL it's very difficult to get scoring chances and that you need to use the chances that you have been able to create.

What else do you need to learn to be an NHL regular?

I have to run faster, think faster and play faster. It's that simple.

Can you learn this in a junior league like the WHL?

This question is justified. Usually, you always play at your opponent's level and in the WHL the level is lower than in the NHL. Therefore, despite weaker opponents, I am seeking to play like I did in the NHL. It's the only way to grow my play.

You had a furious start in the NHL, you checked every opponent and then it got more and more quieter around you. How do you rate your performance over nine NHL games?

What you mention has to do with my development in these nine games. At the beginning of the season I had only the confidence to show my physical ability. Later my confidence grew and I trusted myself to make something with the puck. Therefore, my physical presence declined. All in all, I am satisfied with my performance. The New York Islanders drafted me because I am a goal scorer and not because I can check and hit.

What are your best memories of the past few weeks in the NHL?

Clearly the first game with the New York Islanders against the Dallas Stars. Then, of course my first goal in the NHL and the games against Montreal and Toronto in Canada were a great experience.

And what was your worst NHL experience?

Fortunately I was spared from bad experiences.

Was it the slashing by Mike Cammalleri in the preseason?

Well, maybe that was my worst experience. But I put that behind me a long time ago.

According to NHL rules your contract has not started yet. Did you still get paid for your NHL stint?

Yes, they paid my normal NHL salary for nine games and I got the signing bonus of 90'000$. I have got more than enough money for my regular life now.

So, for the first time, your parents don't have to pay anymore for your career?

Yes, they don't have to pay anymore. I'm able to finance my career on my own now.

But life in the WHL is nevertheless different than in the NHL. Do you live again with a host family?

Yes, that's a big change, on Long Island I lived in a hotel. I mean, it's nice that you have a home and someone is cooking dinner for you. But I have to be at home at 11 o'clock, which is a bit tedious.

Did you know your new Swiss teammate in Portland, Sven Bärtschi, before?

Yes, we have played together in various junior national teams and we are good friends since a while. I look forward to play the WJC in Buffalo with him.

You missed your last goal, make it in the NHL as quickly as possible. What are your new goals?

We have an extremely good team here in Portland. The chances of winning the Memorial Cup are very good. Therefore I want to play successfully with the Winter Hawks as long as possible this season. And I know that this will be my last year in juniors. I have a lot of confidence and I am optimistic, I will play in the NHL next year. Actually, I survived every roster cut the New York Islanders made during training camp. It was bad luck for me that the Islanders had so many injuries; they even had to call up a player from the AHL. These injured players overshadowed me. Next year this will not happen anymore. Next year I'll play in the NHL.

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