LJUBLJANA – Michael Grabner
is the only of Austria’s three NHL players who was able to represent the national team at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. On Thursday he celebrated the promotion to the elite nations.
Believe it or not, but Grabner is currently participating in his first ever World Championship tournament with Austria’s men’s national team. His last international event dates back to 2009 when he helped his country in the Olympic Qualification. He also played once at the U20 World Championship and two times at the U18 World Championship, both times at Division I level.
Grabner debuted with his hometown club Villacher SV in the top Austrian league as a 16-year-old before moving to Canada. After several junior years and AHL seasons for Vancouver’s affiliate Manitoba Moose he eventually found his place in the NHL in 2010 when the New York Islanders claimed him off waivers.
The team from Long Island was rewarded with 52 points in 76 games. And Grabner was rewarded last spring with a five-year contract worth $15 million, which made him one of the best-paid Austrian athletes.
“It was always my dream to play in the NHL and I think I’m accepted in the league, it doesn’t matter where you come from,” the 24-year-old says. “I hope I can be successful with the Islanders as well next year as I’ve been here – and reach the playoffs.”
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