In his father’s footsteps
Article - In his father’s footsteps
The Canadian forward Daniel Audette tried to walk in his famous father’s footsteps. He did not make it to the NHL. But instead to the attraction of European hockey.
Porrentruy and Jura remind him a little of his home Quebec says Daniel Audette. ‘I grew up north of Montreal. The nature there is very similar to that in Jura’, says Audette, who is a forward for HC Ajoie since the beginning of this season.
Audette, 27, is the son of Donald Audette, an NHL legend, who until his retirement in 2004 played more than 800 games and was an All-Star in the world’s best league. Audette junior soaked up the ice hockey experience, already wandering the NHL arenas and changerooms as a little tot. For a long time, his dream of following his father seemed to be within reach; in 2014 he was drafted in the fifth round. By the Montreal Canadiens of all teams. The team he followed almost religiously. And the one his dad had already played for. His father still works as a scout for the Canadiens in Quebec today, though he took a leave during the draft of his son, reveals Daniel Audette. ‘We drove to the draft in Philadelphia together. That was a really big deal, that Montreal gave me their trust. But of course, this constellation brought along some pressure.’
But Audette did not make it to the NHL, though he did at least play a few pre-season games with the Canadiens and can say that he has played in the legendary hockey cathedral Centre Bell. He keeps those jerseys safely at home.
In 2020 he made the move to Europe – in part thanks to the Spengler Cup. ‘The Spengler Cup was my first touchpoint with European hockey. Otherwise, you don’t hear much when you play in North America. But the memories of the high level of play at the tournament stayed with me’, he says.
With Lukko Raumo he played the best season of his career alongside the current SCL Tiger pros Vili Saarjarvi and Aleksi Saarela. He was the top scorer with 50 points in 60 games – and Lukko the surprise champion. What followed were stints in the KHL (Witjas Podolsk), Sweden (Orebro HK), and Lausanne HC, before Audette landed at HC Ajoie. ‘I am grateful for having the opportunity to experience so many countries and cultures. Every league has its uniqueness and strengths. In Switzerland that is definitely the tempo’, he says.
Audette wants to speed around his opponents at the Spengler Cup as well. It is his second appearance for his home country at the senior level, after he was nominated for the Channel One Cup in 2021. The tournament is also an opportunity to market himself; his contract with Ajoie is up at the end of the season.
Text: SLAPSHOT – Das Hockey-Magazin der Schweiz Foto: KEYSTONE/Ennio Leanza