Sasa Martinovic is extremely familiar with the DEL (German ice hockey league) as well as the Austrian top ice hockey league. Starting this year, Martinovic plays with Medvescak Zagreb in the KHL – a totally different level of competition. He is not only happy to participate in one of the world’s strongest leagues, but also eager to return to the Spengler Cup.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Spengler Cup?
Sasa Martinovic: Switzerland, the Alps and a spectacular tournament. I played at the Spengler Cup in 2008 with Ingolstadt. The atmosphere, the mountains, the beautiful – and always sold-out – Vaillant Arena, was simply wonderful.
In that case, you must be looking forward to participating again this year?
Sasa Martinovic: Yes, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to participate in this tournament once again.
What goals do you wish to achieve?
Sasa Martinovic: I always want to win. But primarily we should all have fun and naturally, we also hope that no one gets injured.
What has changed for you since you began playing with Medvescak Zagreb in the KHL?
Sasa Martinovic: The level of play is higher, the players stronger. Actually, everything has changed. The whole city of Zagreb and the entire country is immensely proud that we are able to play in the KHL – one of the best leagues in the world! In Zagreb, there are 4 ice hockey teams, only one of which is a professional team. For the city and the country it is a huge honor for us to participate at the Spengler Cup for the first time. I have played in Germany in the DEL, then with Zagreb for 2 years in the Austrian top ice hockey league. These leagues are very similar to Switzerland in regards to process and organization. In the Russian league, with its great distances – up to 10 different time zones, we face a totally different level of pressure.
Do you believe that the KHL-trio (Medvescak Zagreb, Jokerit Helsinki and Ufa) will decide the Spengler Cup amongst themselves?
Sasa Martinovic: The KHL is really a technically strong league. However, with 25 North Americans on our team, our style of play is not very Russian - more like a typical North American team. We don’t play the typical Russian style of spectacular stick technique, but with more emphasis on quick zone returns and body contact.
Will Medvescak Zagreb profit from its participation at the Spengler Cup?
Sasa Martinovic: Yes, of course. It is a great pleasure for the entire team to play in Davos. It is the most beautiful tournament that I have ever played. The anticipation before the tournament is fantastic, you have a positive attitude, it is such fun and gives you much joy.
Which opponent are you especially looking forward to facing?
Sasa Martinovic: It is always enjoyable to play against the home team. Usually, it is the best stadium atmosphere because they have the most fans cheering for them.
And who is your Spengler Cup favorite?
Sasa Martinovic: That is difficult to say. All the teams are at a similar level.
Doug Shedden has been the new Coach for Zagreb for about 10 days now. For Shedden, who coached the Hockey Club Davos in 1991/92, it is his 6th Spengler Cup. He will seek a second win following 2012 with Team Canada. Has the pressure to succeed increased?
Sasa Martinovic: I believe that it is also a huge honor for our coaches to return to the Spengler Cup. Shedden faces a new situation. He will be arriving with the Zagreb team in Davos – not with Team Canada. His advantage is most certainly his Spengler Cup experience, which he can fall back on. He will be ably equipped to prepare us for the tournament and help us to achieve our goals. Therefore, we do not feel the pressure to succeed.
If you had a wish available for this year’s Spengler Cup, what would it be?
Sasa Martinovic: That we would win the final game and celebrate New Year’s in Davos!
The 56 year-old Steve Tambellini was General Manager of Team Canada during the World Championships in 2003 and 2005, guiding the team to both gold and silver. As a player, Tambellini won bronze with Team Canada at the Junior World Championship in 1978 and was a member of the team at the World Championship in 1981, also participating in the Olympic Games in 1988. From 1978 to 1988 he played with Vancouver, Calgary, New Jersey, Colorado and the New York Islanders in the NHL. He spent the last active years of his career in Europe playing with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League B and the Villacher Sport Club in the Austrian Hockey League, retiring in 1990. While with the Lions, the team advanced to the National League A. Craig Heisinger was a member of the 2013
Spengler Cup management staff and, among his many other duties, was also Manager of Team Canada in 1997 when they won gold at the World Championship. Scott White is the Director of the NHL Team - Dallas Stars. “This is a group of immensely experienced and successful people. We are confident that they will pull together a team that Canada can be proud of,” explains Scott Salmond, Vice President of Hockey Canada.
Team Canada play their first game at this year’s Spengler Cup on December 26th against the host Hockey Club Davos. It is unknown at this time, who will comprise the team’s coaching staff. Last year’s head coach, Doug Shedden, has been engaged by Medvescak Zagreb - another Spengler Cup team.
Fredi Pargätzi, what is so special about this year’s Spengler Cup?
Fredi Pargätzi: For sports fans, the distinctiveness of this year’s Spengler Cup is that 3 teams from the Kontinental Hockey League KHL will be participating. The absolute top teams are the Russians Salavat Yulaev Ufa, the Finnish Jokerit Helsinki as well as Medescak Zagreb. Hereby representing the first Croatian Team to participate in Spengler Cup history. This is a great addition for our traditional tournament. Also a first, is the participation of the defending Swiss Champion - not being the Hockey Club Davos HCD. For us as organizers, this year is also special because it will be the last time the tournament is a joint venture with IMG Schweiz AG. As of next year, we will be the sole organizer and have full responsibility.
Are there any alterations in comparison to previous years?
Fredi Pargätzi: We intend to continue to conduct the Spengler Cup at its usual high level of competition and efficient organization. After 2 years of having the Hockey Club Davos only begin on December 27th, HCD can look forward to playing the opening game at this year’s 88th Spengler Cup. This came about because not all the teams are able to play on December 26th. In addition, in 2012 when Mannheim and Fribourg brought along so many fans as well as the fact that so many lock-out players were available – the atmosphere in the stadium was extremely good. However, we had the feeling that at last year’s tournament the fact that HCD did not play the opening game put a damper on the mood. We made the changes as a result of these two factors. We want to begin the tournament with a blockbuster.
Who is your personal tournament favorite?
Fredi Pargätzi: That is hard to say. The participating teams are unpredictable. Jokerit Helsinki will surely begin
strong. I have had a very good personal relationship with the owners of this team for many years now. I am very happy that they are able to participate. Jokerit Helsinki is a top team. This is special to me because I worked long and hard to secure their participation. However, I do not favor any special team, I like them all equally. Salavat Yulaev Ufa has been playing well in their league championship. Medescak Zagreb is a bit of an exotic team, which will be especially fascinating for our tournament. Geneve-Servette HC has been exhibiting appealing hockey in the Champions Hockey League and Hockey Club Davos always embodies spectacular hockey. The only team that is hard to judge is Team Canada. Each year they are put together at short notice. I am confident, that the 2014 Spengler Cup will be one of the best in our tournament history.
Why is it so important to get your ticket early?
Fredi Pargätzi: To ensure that you get a ticket. It is already clear that many of the games will be sold-out.
If you were to present a friend with the perfect Spengler Cup day – what would it look like?
Fredi Pargätzi: I would suggest that my friend come fully rested. Spend the day skiing, lunch on the mountain and then full of great expectations arrive at the Spengler Cup with the family. I would then suggest something excellent to eat while the children visit the fan tent. Following the second game, I would enjoy a last glass of wine to round off the day.
What are your personal wishes for this year’s Spengler Cup?
Fredi Pargätzi: I want everything to run smoothly. That the teams may return home without any injuries and that they would say the Spengler Cup was a fantastic experience and would gladly participate again.
Photo: Fredi Pargätzi: “We want to begin the tournament with a blockbuster.”
The official ticket sales for this year's Spengler Cup are opened. First General Admission tickets are available
as from now. Tickets
HC Genève-Servette, Team Canada, HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Jokerit Helsinki, Medvescak Zagreb (photo) and Hockey Club Davos are the Spengler Cup teams for 2014. Once again, the organizers are able to present an illustrious line-up of teams.
Never before has the organizing committee, under the guidance of President Fredi Pargätzi, been able to present the participating teams at such an early stage. Especially pleasing is that HC Genève-Servette wishes to defend their title of the previous year. The Team from western Switzerland not only shined at the Spengler Cup, but also in the Swiss Hockey League by reaching the semi-finals. The Genève-Servette Team will surely be a candidate for a top ranking at this years tournament as well.
In constructive collaboration with the KHL
Three teams from the KHL will fight the Swiss for the winner`s trophy. This is a combination, which was allowed by the excellent partnership between the KHL and the Spengler Cup organization. «I count myself extraordinary lucky about the brilliant relationship and the constructive collaboration between the KHL and the Spengler Cup organization. The KHL is supporting us greatly for years now. We appreciate this support very much», said Fredi Pargätzi.
The KHL will be represented by the teams of Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia), Jokerit Helsinki (Finland) and Salavat Yulaey Ufa (Russia).
After a 8 year break with a scandinavian team again
As a newcomer in the KHL, Medvescak Zagreb became in the first season to the surprise of many experts to a constant (6th place in the Western Division of the KHL). The OC-President Fredi Pargätzi is confident that: «the 18-time Croatian Champion will
impress the Spengler Cup fans». Eight years after Mora IK`s participation, a further Scandinavian team will compete for the Spengler Cup title. Jokerit Helsinki is familiar with the Spengler Cup, participating a total of six times - the last time in 2003. A new era will begin during the 2014/15 Season for the 6-time Finnish Champion who enjoys a cult status in their home country. It is the first Finnish team to participate in the KHL. The third KHL team, HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa, will be participating for their third time at the Spengler Cup in Davos. This top team from Russia (KHL Champion in 2011) made it to the Spengler Cup finals in 2007 where they succumbed to Team Canada. Speaking of which, the Canadians will once again participate in the Spengler Cup for the 31st time in succession. Ever since, the Canadians inspire the crowd with attractive ice hockey and are therefore one of the drawing cards of the Spengler Cup.
Rounding off the participating teams is Hockey Club Davos. The champion record-holder of the Swiss National League A and record-holder of the Spengler Cup title is presently re-building their team. Experienced players are being replaced by younger hot-shots. Nevertheless, their chances of reaching a top ranking at the 2014 Spengler Cup are intact.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The 2014 Spengler Cup: A good mix of tradition and a breath of fresh air.
With Finland and Croatia, there are two new nations fighting for the honor of a place on the Spengler Cup Winner`s List. «We are proud to present the participating teams and look forward to suspense-filled games», OC President Fredi Pargätzi is quoted as saying, as he looks forward to the 88th Spengler Cup with great anticipation.