Ice hockey: Captain Hischier: leadership, goals and MVP performances


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Nico Hischier has been named captain of the Swiss team for the World Cup in Finland. The 23-year-old Valaisan has guided the Swiss selection by deeds towards a perfect course so far.

Nico Hischier is the guide of the Swiss team at the World Cup.

Nico Hischier is the guide of the Swiss team at the World Cup.

Urs Lindt/freshfocus

To succeed Raphaël Diaz – captain of the selection since 2017 and until the Beijing Olympics last February before being permanently dismissed – coach Patrick Fischer turned to Nico Hischier.

The Swiss team coach had already spoken to his new captain during a recent visit to North America at the end of the NHL regular season. If Roman Josi, leader of the Nashville Predators, did not join the Swiss selection for the World Cup, Hischier would in this case become the new captain of the national team.

Captain, the Valaisan has already been with his New Jersey Devils team in the NHL since the course of the 2020-2021 season. On February 20, 2021, the Newark-based club made Hischier the youngest NHL captain at the time (22 years old), the 12th in New Jersey franchise history and the third Swiss captain of a league. NHL franchise (after Mark Streit with the New York Islanders then Roman Josi in Nashville).

At the Devils, Hischier directly succeeded Andy Greene after the latter’s transfer to the New York Islanders, and at the same time followed in the footsteps of club legends such as Scott Stevens and Kirk Muller.

Rather introverted – especially when speaking to the media – the first choice of the 2017 draft is above all a leader by deeds. “I prefer to act and lead by example,” explained the Valaisan to the NHL site. My job is to play the right way. To lead by example through action. This is what I have to do day after day.”

Nico Hischier already takes on the role of captain with the Devils in the NHL.

Nico Hischier already takes on the role of captain with the Devils in the NHL.

freshfocus

At the World Cup in Helsinki, this is exactly how Hischier has guided the Swiss team to a perfect course so far (seven matches, seven wins). The Valaisan has not had a single bad evening since the Swiss selection entered the World Cup. His statistical record attests to this: with five goals and three assists, he ranks seventh in scoring, a stone’s throw from his teammate Denis Malgin, the current top scorer in the tournament with 12 points. Tuesday against Germany (4-3 pens), Hischier showed the way during the penalty shootout by starting first and brilliantly scoring his team’s first penalty.

His match last Saturday against Canada (6-3 victory) will remain for the moment as his greatest performance in the national jersey: an anthology goal in power-play, an assist, and an overall monstrous performance.

As an exemplary captain, Hischier always puts the team before himself. « I’m happy with my performance and my game, but what matters most to me is that the team wins its matches, » he breathed in the corridors after the triumph against the Canadians with, still , this concern above all not to make waves around his person.

The 23-year-old Valaisan is the major player for the Swiss team in Finland.

The 23-year-old Valaisan is the major player for the Swiss team in Finland.

Urs Lindt/freshfocus

On the ice in Helsinki, Hischier has simply been extraordinary so far: goals, assists, blocked shots, outstanding application and defensive awareness. The Valaisan is in the oven and in the mill and offers performances worthy of a tournament MVP. “What he produces for us on both sides of the ice and the way he guides the team is fantastic. It’s simply world class,” applauded coach Patrick Fischer.

Against the United States on Thursday in the quarterfinals (7:20 p.m.), “Captain Nico” will try to guide his team to the last four of the competition. And to get there, Switzerland will certainly need an MVP performance from its guide.



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