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11-20-2012, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by kudymen View Post
Chris Stewart left Liberec (Extraliga) and heads back to Crimmitschau (Germany - tier3 if I remember correctly)
2nd tier (2. Bundesliga) actually. Stewart had 2 assists and bloodied an opponent in a fight in his first game back.

And as expected he's been loving the game atmosphere in Crimmitschau:

They ended up in Crimmitschau, Germany, a town of only 20,000 people with a team in the German league's second division. They signed one-month contracts, hoping to find a higher level of competition later. They made no money. Though the team covered hotel rooms, hotel meals and cars, their salaries covered only the insurance on their NHL contracts.

Off the ice, it was quiet. Everything closed at 8 p.m. and stayed closed on the weekends, so they bought a TV and an Xbox to entertain themselves. On the ice, it was an adjustment. The NHL is so structured that Simmonds said "it's almost like you're programmed a certain way." This league was so unstructured that Simmonds didn't know where to be. He'd go to check his point man, and all five guys would be down low.

"I had to completely change my game," Simmonds said. "You can't do that, or else you're not going to be a good player in European hockey. You've kind of got to go with the flow of things."

But some of those things, they'll never forget. One end of their home arena was open to the air. You could see the woods. It could be cold. "If it was warm outside, you'd have the fog roll in," Simmonds said. It was packed with about 6,000 fans, who would go nuts and throw things on the ice, like cups and a chicken.

Yes, a chicken. Ready to cook.

"A [bleeping] chicken?" Stewart said with a laugh. "I was like, 'Whoa. Don't piss these fans off, man. They're throwing a chicken on the ice in Crimmitschau, they're no joke.' "

One game, Stewart scored two goals, and Simmonds assisted on both. In the NHL, they announce the three stars, and the guys take a little twirl, raise their sticks and disappear. In Crimmitschau, the fans would chant the players' names. The players would come out and dance.

Yes, dance. On the ice.

"They called him out first," Simmonds said. "The whole team is in a semicircle. He goes and does a dance, and then I had to go do a dance in front of the fans."

"Then literally you skate around the ice," Stewart said. "It's like a Stanley Cup party. I'm like, 'Is this every game?' "

That is the stuff Simmonds will remember most.

"The fan situation in Germany," he said, "that was probably the best part I think of my trip so far."

The good old chicken tradition lives on.

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