While the Sharks have had several Germans dotting their roster over the year, there is currently only one in netminder Thomas Greiss. It will be a fair assumption that Greiss will be a popular man during the Sharks visit to Mannheim. For him, it will be fun to bring his new league to his home country.
“I’m excited,” said Greiss. “My parents are coming and a couple of friends are coming. Maybe only six tickets, but we’ll see (if someone else comes). It will be good to see the family again.”
Greiss was born in Fussen and lists Rasshaupten as his hometown, so he is not overly familiar with Mannheim, but his playing career with Cologne of the German Elite League from 2003-2006 took him to the city playing host to the Sharks.
“It’s about two and a half hours, I’ve been there numerous times,” said Greiss of Manheim. “I’ve played in both arenas, the new one and the old one.”
The newer version where Saturday’s game will take place may not have everything seen around the NHL, but it can hold its own.
“It is really nice,” said Greiss. “It’s a nice facility with the practice rink all in one. There is not much moving around. I think 16,000 fit in there, it is pretty good size.”
The atmosphere inside the building will be a special one for those traveling across the pond.
“They are really vocal and they have drums and cheering songs,” said Greiss. “They get into it like a soccer match.”
Attendance should not be a problem (Sharks fans not flying over can listen online).
“I think it’s sold out,” said Greiss.
The Sharks are staying outside Mannheim and that will be new territory for Greiss.
“I’ll just be a tourist with a camera in my hand like everybody else,” said Greiss, who is from Bavaria.
Greiss himself is another step in growing hockey in Germany. Unlike Sweden where it likely is the most popular sport, nothing is even close to soccer in Germany.
“Soccer is first and then there is a big drop off to the other sports like hockey, handball and basketball,” said Greiss, noting that hockey might rank barely above bobsledding.
It’s not known yet if Greiss will get in against the Eagles, who happen to be a prime opponent of his German club.
“I played for Cologne and they were one of the biggest rivals of us,” said Greiss. “It’s a good rivalry.”
Now he will once again be trying to beat them.
GETTING AROUND Greiss noted that any teammate who loses their way shouldn’t have a hard time getting pointed in the right direction.
“It’s mandatory that you learn it (English) in school,” said Greiss. “It’s a basic level, but they’ll be fine.”