The Saint-Gallois hockey player is coming off a very good season with the Kings. He who « loves to play for Switzerland » is taking part in the World Cup to settle an old score. Next match: this Thursday at 7:20 p.m. against Slovakia.
18.05.2023, 11:5518.05.2023, 12:39
Many NHL stars did not want to go to the World Championship at the end of their club season. For Fiala, on the other hand, it was out of the question to refuse selection, although he was not at 100% of his ability during the play-offs due to knee problems, and he did not have only played the last three games of the Round of 16 against the Edmonton Oilers.
“I love representing Switzerland,” says the 26-year-old, who was born in Uzwil. The St. Gallen would have liked to make the national team last year at the World Cup in Finland, despite the fact that a lucrative multi-year contract awaited him. But his team had then advised him against it, because of the excessive risk of injury, and Fiala had told coach Patrick Fischer that he should not be counted on.
Switzerland’s preliminary round at the World Cup
Saturday May 13: Switzerland – Slovenia (7-0)
Sunday May 14: Switzerland – Norway (3-0)
Tuesday May 16: Switzerland – Kazakhstan (5-0)
Thursday May 18 (7:20 p.m.): Switzerland – Slovakia
Saturday May 20 (3:20 p.m.): Canada – Switzerland
Sunday May 21 (7:20 p.m.): Czech Republic – Switzerland
Tuesday May 23 (7:20 p.m.): Switzerland – Latvia
This year, everything is different. Given his knee injury, the attacker had to wait before getting the green light from his Los Angeles Kings team. Here he is now in Riga and with great confidence, since he is coming off a successful season:
In the three NHL play-off games, Fiala scored one goal and provided five assists, while in qualifying he scored 23 goals and set up 49 in 69 games.
When he looks back on his journey in North America, he explains that his first NHL transfer from Nashville to Minnesota in February 2019 took some time to adapt. “It had taken a long time before I could be myself.” At the Kings, he immediately felt “very, very comfortable. This is the key that made everything go well from the start of this season, says Fiala. The club took me as I am. A sign of the organization’s confidence in the Swiss, Los Angeles offered him a seven-year contract worth $55.125 million.
The fact that he felt good from the start in California is also linked to the destination. After being drafted in 2014 by Nashville as number 11, Fiala trained in August with the Predators in Los Angeles and immediately fell in love with the city. At the time, he thought it was unfair for an NHL team to play there. Now he does it himself.
His wife Jessica was also seduced by LA and its surroundings.
The player likes the heat. He can now go to training in shorts and then rest on the beach. It gives her a permanent holiday feeling and helps her disconnect.
« For me, who don’t have children yet, this environment makes it easier for me to forget hockey, which is a big key to success »
As he signed on the long term with his club, he became the owner of a magnificent house with a swimming pool in Manhattan Beach. The distance to the sea is about one kilometer. “It’s our first real house,” says Fiala. Previously, he had always rented his accommodation, whether in Sweden, where his wife is from, or in Switzerland, when he trained in Europe in the summer. Fiala is also very happy with the Kings squad. “I had never experienced anything so special before. There are no small groups in the locker room.
Thanks to his good season, Fiala was entitled to a special honor. At the beginning of February, he was the sixth Swiss to participate in the All-Star-Game. On this occasion, he evolved in the selection of the Pacific division alongside Connor McDavid, the best player in the world today. “It was very special to get to know him better. He is down to earth and a lovely person who seems to be living in another world. He is better than the others in all areas.
Fiala (in white) against Minnesota this season.Picture: FR52664 AP
After the disappointment of the NHL play-offs, where he and his team thought they had a great chance, Fiala now wants to end the season on a high note. This is the fifth time he has participated in a World Cup since 2014 and his first appearance at the age of 17.
His goal is clear: gold and nothing else. Fiala was part of the 2018 epic that ended in silver for Switzerland. At the time, he narrowly failed in extra time against goalkeeper Anders Nilsson in the final against Sweden, lost on penalties. This golden opportunity, in the truest sense of the word, still haunts him today.
“My head and my heart tell me that another chance will present itself. And I’ll take it »
Why not May 28, the date on which the final will take place, this year in Tampere?
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