Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002, Tyler Weiman played seven professional seasons in North America after wrapping up his major junior career with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.
He wracked up 215 games in the American Hockey League ¬– mostly in the Avalanche system before one season with the Vancouver Canucks – but just 16 minutes in the NHL before leaving for Germany last season.
For Weiman, 28, the move to one of Europe’s top leagues – the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) is considered by most observers to be behind only Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League and not far back of the Swedish Elite League, and by most accounts the closest to North America in terms of a more physical style of play – was about opportunity.
“Obviously everybody’s dream is to play in the National Hockey League,” he said. “You work hard in the summer, you put in your time and you hope you are going to get your chance. I was fortunate to back up a number of games and get in once. You have to weigh ‘ok when is this opportunity going to come again?’ You don’t want to get buried too far in some systems where guys get younger and it’s all about prospects and building.”
For Weiman, the decision to go to southern Germany – first with the Augsburger Panthers last season, and now the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers Nürnberg – was easier because his wife’s family is from Germany and her grandparents live nearby.
For all players, the decision is made easier by the finances.
Not only do most make more than they would playing in the AHL, but they get to keep a lot more of it thanks to team-supplied house, car, and a lack of taxes. The team pays their agent fees, there are fewer games, and bus rides are usually a lot shorter than the AHL. But above all else, it’s a chance to play a bigger role.
“Obviously you want to be a No.1 guy, that’s what goaltending is all about, you want to be the guy,” Weiman said, “And then you look at positives people are telling you. It’s not all bad, where people will say ‘oh look he just went to Europe, his dream to play in the NHL is over.’ There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Read the entire first article from the October edition of InGoal Magazine, and look for Part 2 soon in the December edition.