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Bastian Baker puts down guitar to practice with Flyers at Global Series

Switzerland-born musician takes part in bag skate in Lausanne

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Bastian Baker admitted he was not ready for an NHL-caliber bag skate Monday.

But the 28-year-old Lausanne-born music star went through all the drills following the Philadelphia Flyers' morning skate at Vaudoise Arena, trying his best to keep pace with forwards Chris Stewart and Tyler Pitlick, and goalie Alex Lyon.

Baker got on the ice after the Flyers were finished preparing for the NHL Global Challenge preseason game against National League team Lausanne (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSP+, NHL.TV).

"I tried to come here without any expectation," said Baker, who wore a No. 19 Flyers jersey with his name stitched on the back. "I just knew I'd have a lot of fun. Didn't think I'd be out of breath like I am right now, that I'd sweat that much for sure. But that was so much fun. I have so few occasions to go skating and one of them this year is with the Philadelphia Flyers, so I'm super-grateful."

Baker, whose real name is Bastian Kaltenbacher, was a defenseman who had 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 14 games with Visp in Switzerland's under-20 league in 2010-11, his final season.

But Baker's real passion is music. He sang at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival at age 18, and his first album, "Tomorrow May Not Be Better," was certified platinum in Switzerland. Last year he toured North America opening for Shania Twain.

Baker's music career has not precluded him from staying involved in hockey. He counts Switzerland-born NHL stars Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks among his friends, and he plays in charity hockey games when he can.

Video: Bastian Baker practices with the Flyers

"I'm very good friends with Roman Josi and (former NHL player) Mark Streit and every year they have a charity game in Bern here in Switzerland for the Red Cross," he said. "I played two years in a row and we had this super cool 3-on-3 where it was Roman, Nino Niederreiter and I against Yannick Weber, Luca Sbisa and one guy from the top league here, and the goalies were Reto Berra and Jonas Hiller. So that was like the Swiss all-star game and I was part of it so that was a lot of fun."

Baker did well enough Monday to impress his NHL teammates for a day.

"I had to ask him where he played last year," Stewart said. "He looked good. ... I was impressed with his edges. We're working on tips and stuff and he didn't look like he was missing a beat."

Stewart was most impressed that Baker never skipped a drill.

"I don't think he knew he was jumping into a bag skate," Stewart said. "He was thinking we'd only do it once, but you know the rules -- once you join the bag skate you can't leave." 

As much fun as Baker said he had, don't expect to see him put down his guitar and pick up a hockey stick full-time.

"I quit playing when I was 19 to pursue the music career and I'm glad I did," he said.

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