Tonight, EHC Red Bull Munich hosted this season's first fantalk event at the Champions Bar (Marriott Hotel), in Schwabing. The event gives the fans and the media the chance to get to know the officials and players better.
Tonight's guests included EHC managing director Christian Winkler, EHC head coach Pat Cortina and NHL star import Paul Stastny. They were of course accompanied by plenty of fans, the combination of which made for a great evening.
The majority of questions from fans (and stadium announcer Stefan Schneider) were directed at superstar Paul Stastny, who happily answered all his questions whilst sipping on a chilled Bavarian wheat beer.
"I personally think Munich is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. Me and Wheels (Blake Wheeler) head into town 4-5 times a week to explore the city sights after practice and gather amongst other tourists and locals. I love the Christmas markets. It's just too bad that I missed out on Oktoberfest this year", said Stastny with a big smile.
When asked what his first impressions of the EHC Red Bull team were, Paul said that he could not be happier to be "playing for a fine young team with a bunch of good guys." "The fans over here are simply insane", Stastny added. "The atmosphere, energy and intensity in the stands at our games is simply unique. It's a pity that NHL supporters are not as passionate."
EHC managing director Christian Winkler spoke highly of his two star signings. "Paul and Blake are stars in our sport. They're heroes and role models to a lot of young and upcoming players because of their talent. They truly deliver their own entertainment factor to each session on the ice. I can only extend my invitation to all sporting fans to head down to one of our upcoming games to make sure to watch the boys live. Unfortunately, no one knows how much longer the two will be around because of the NHL lockout."
EHC coach Pat Cortina extended Winkler's compliments by saying that he "could not be happier to have such talented players join the club during the NHL lockout. Paul and Blake certainly make us a better team. They are fun to watch and are great hockey players but what's been really fun for me is to see how well they behave off the ice. They are approachable, down-to-earth guys who are fun to have around. They respect the team and what we're trying to do here in Munich."
"I actually still get goosebumps when the fans call out my name. Especially after a win when we as a team are called out onto the ice again to celebrate with them", said Stastny. When asked about the 'HUMBA', Stastny laughed and admitted that he has no idea what he's saying. The fans certainly don't mind. They are all enjoying the luxury and privilege of having both players wear the EHC Red Bull Munich jersey.
An EHC fan summed up the real feelings of both the evening and the season so far: "I love the NHL, I really do. But right now, I just have my fingers crossed for the lockout to continue so that Stastny and Wheeler can stay here in Munich with us."
It's clear just how important the two players have been so far this season for EHC and the general feeling of the fantalk was that although the absence of the NHL is causing a hole in the ice hockey world, there are sides who are enjoying the fruits of it's currently empty basket.