NEWARK, NJ - It has been a bit of a different summer for New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier. As he did the summer before, he returned to his native Switzerland for the summer months, but this time around his routine had a slight change.
In Switzerland, there is an obligation to participate in military service training. There are exemptions of course, like Swiss citizens living abroad - such as Hischier. But the Devils player chose not to use that exemption, instead electing to participate with his peers.
In late-June, Hischier showed up at the Recruitment Center in Sumiswald, Switzerland to begin the recruitment process. All those involved went through a psychological assessment, medical examination, and physical assessments. He was joined by Devils goalie prospect Gilles Senn.
"I am Swiss, and I want to fulfill my civic duty," Hischier told Eve Hug of the Swiss Defense Communications. "And I think it's a good thing everyone is treated the same. I like the fact that every Swiss-born goes through the recruitment process that I am now experiencing."
Treated the same, because all men and women are identified solely by a designated number. While Hischier may be used to number 13 in New Jersey, he was handed 121 in Switzerland.
"Everyone here is a unique personality," Colonel EMG Hans Schori told Hug. "Although the focus is now a little more on one person [Hischier], the same rules apply to all. All will be treated on an equal footing."
On equal-footing is exactly how Hischier wants things. Whether it's during the recruitment process in Switzerland or in the New Jersey Devils locker room, Nico has always been extremely humble, despite his successes at such a young age.
Hischier was awarded a "sporting distinction" at the end of the recruitment process, and he'll qualify going forward as an athlete soldier.
Living abroad for most of the year, Hischier doesn't have to participate, but the 20-year-old sees the value in voluntarily participating, beyond his civic duty.
"It brings you 'down to earth' and prepares you for life," Hischier said. "We learn things that help us on a personal level."
The summer of 2019 has been the recruitment process, and Hischier expects to participate in the "Rekrutenschule" next, the basic training for the army, in the summer of 2020. The only thing that would prevent him from participating is a potential long run in the playoffs for New Jersey.
"You never know what's going to happen," Hischier said. "But I really do want to participate."
With files from Swiss Communication of Defence, Eve Hug.