There is a crunch in German ice hockey: the start of the competition was postponed again on Friday. A trade union is therefore critical. However, one national player considers the complete failure unthinkable.

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The German Ice Hockey League (DEL) has again postponed the start of the competition on Friday. Now the puck is not allowed to fly over the ice again until December. This also offers the opportunity to “reduce costs with a shortened season”, says DEL director Gernot Tripcke. In this case it would be “tight for playoffs” due to time constraints, but the mode issue was “a luxury issue anyway. We want and need to be flexible.”

It is already the second postponement and that is critical. The newly established players’ union SVE expressed their displeasure about this on Facebook: “Instead of encouraging answers and a justified hope for a return to the ice and the fan curves, today has left many questions and major disappointments.”

Players ask for a fixed start date

After the originally planned kick-off on September 18 was canceled due to the economic problems caused by the Corona crisis, the season should have started on November 13. However, the DEL had linked this date to binding political commitments about financial aid. These did not materialize.

A season start with the currently possible room occupancy of up to 20 percent would not help the competition in the difficult situation. “Our stadium income is the most important thing. We live from it, the players live from it, the clubs live from it”, said DEL director Gernot Tripcke. “Nobody can do anything for the problems. We can’t just play for fun.”

After a conference call on Friday, it was said that the goal now was to start in the second half of December. The SVE, which is led by ex-national player Alexander Sulzer and announced a detailed statement for Saturday, criticized this: “One thing is for sure: we are in favor of naming a specific start date.”

A complete failure of the ice hockey league is unthinkable

Former national player Patrick Köppchen finds it unthinkable that the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) will not take place at all next winter. “I cannot imagine it will not take place,” said the 40-year-old two-time German champion of the SID news agency. If it came to that, “it would be unbelievably sad”, it would “be no good at all for German ice hockey if the flagship competition doesn’t participate”.

Köppchen assumes that the decision-makers are “willing and the goal is for the season to take place as it plays out”. The Berlin resident, who has played the fourth most games in the DEL (1,025) and has a record of 506 appearances in a row, would “regret a cancellation if all other leagues work and find ways to make the season happen”.

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