Most players who shift from playing in Europe to North America need time to make the adjustment. For Guelph Storm center Tanner Richard, the move was akin to coming home after a long trip.
The 6-foot, 182-pound center was born in Markham, Ont., but moved to Switzerland with his family at an early age and learned to play hockey in the Rapperswil organization. After being passed over in the 2011 NHL Draft, he returned to play in the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12.
"I don't know what you want to call it," Richard told NHL.com. "I grew up here, I grew up there. The only difference is I never played hockey here, so I guess that does make me a European."
Richard and his family relocated to Switzerland when his father, Mike Richard, made playing in the country his full-time career. After playing seven games in two seasons with the Washington Capitals in 1987-88 and 1989-90, he spent most of the last 20 years playing professionally in Switzerland, mostly with Rapperswil.
Tanner Richard grew up following in his father's footsteps, and made his debut in the top Swiss league with Rapperswil last season, going scoreless in four games. He also excelled against players his own age; he had 43 points in 28 games for Rapperswil's under-20 team as well as four goals in six games for Switzerland at the 2011 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.