The only member of the Slovenian national team at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship that actually played in Slovenia last season has left the country. Ales Music played for Olimpija Ljubljana his entire senior career, but now this era has come to an end. Music, who turned 35 a few weeks ago, signed a one-year contract with Fehervar AV19, a Hungarian team in the Austria-based cross-border league EBEL.
“It’s not that I didn’t have offers before. But they were never good enough, so I always decided to stay at home instead. I like an easy life, if I may say so, with family and friends. I would have taken an offer earlier if I got a really tempting one. But Olimpija played in a very good league and also financially my contracts weren’t bad, that is why at the end I always chose playing at home,” says Music, who played for Olimpija in the EBEL for the last 10 seasons. “This year, however, it was different. Given the fact that Olimpija will no longer play in the EBEL league, I knew I would have to find another club if I wanted to have the chance to go to the Olympic Games. The offer came before the World Championship in Paris, and I decided to take it.”
“For sporting reasons, the decision was easy,” says the Slovenian forward, but admits, he had some concerns because of his family: “I always looked more to the family. That was and still is the most important. I like being at home, I like hanging out with my wife and son. It was a tough decision because my wife and son will stay at home. But they will come to visit me during school holidays. It will be harder for my wife, too, but I know, she will manage.”
Usually, ice hockey players want to play in strong leagues for the best teams. But Music always chose to stay with his family. He says, he doesn’t regret his decisions: “It’s true that I will never know what I could have achieved if I went abroad before. But I don’t regret anything. Actually, I might not have been to so many World Championships and Olympic Games if I had played abroad before. I am happy with my life the way it is.”
At 35 many players think about ending their careers, but not Music. He is looking forward to his first season in Hungary, and admits he is eager to learn what another club looks like: “I’m not used to the professional level I experienced in the first conversations with my new club. I’m sure everything will be on a much higher level than in Ljubljana. Ice hockey in Hungary is on a high level, in the last years they have been investing a lot of money into hockey, and I know the team very well.”
Slovenia played in the top division of this year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Cologne and Paris, but again didn’t manage to stay among the best 16 teams in the World. The Slovenian forward believes they belong among the elite and will advance again in 2018, when the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A will take place in Budapest, Hungary.
“I think we are better than the teams that play in the Division I. We have proven that in the last years. And I am positive we will do it again next year. In Paris we didn’t succeed. I’m sure the reason is that the majority of players finish their season in March and the World Championship takes place in May. By then the form is long gone. If we have good days, we can defeat many teams in the top division. But we didn’t prove that in France.”
The national team’s highlight of the 2017/2018 season will be the Olympic Winter Games. Slovenia will compete there for the second time. In Sochi the “lynx” surprised with a historic seventh-place finish. Music is convinced they can do it again in PyeongChang 2018.
“The Olympic experience was incredible. I became aware of how special the event is at the opening ceremony when the Olympic flame was lit. That was magical. The competition was at the highest possible level. We played against the best players in the world and we did really great. It will be interesting to compare the games three years ago with the ones in PyeongChang,” Music said.
“Unfortunately there won’t be the best since the NHL players will not participate. But for us that is a plus. We only have one NHL player and this won’t affect us as much as it will affect other teams. I’m sure we can do good in the Olympics again. The players know each other very well, we played together for a long time already and we have a good system. In February, when the Games will take place, the majority of players is in their best shape, and I believe we can prove our quality in South Korea.”