Germany will open the 2010 IIHF World Championship on home ice in Gelsenkirchen in front of more than 75,000 fans on May 7 next year against Team USA. And after a disappointing 15th place last spring, the team of head coach Uwe Krupp is under pressure. The former NHL player decided to leave North America, where he was living with his family, and return to Germany.
“Yes, that’s correct,” the former Stanley Cup winner told German newspaper Bild. “With the World Championship approaching fast, I will return to Germany soon and I’ll be living there. There’s so much to organize, not only sport-related things, and I cannot do all this from overseas.”
Krupp will move to Cologne in September. Cologne is the main venue of the 2010 Worlds where the Germans will play their home games apart from the opening game in the famous high-tech football stadium at Gelsenkirchen.
For Krupp it will be a return to his native city after 23 years. Krupp was born in Cologne in 1965. He played 135 games for Kölner EC (now Kölner Haie), winning two German championships, before giving North American hockey a try as an 11th-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, discovered by their then coach and GM Scotty Bowman at the 1983 World U20 Championship.
Krupp spent most part of his rookie season in the farm team, winning the AHL championship with the Rochester Americans before he cracked the Sabres roster. After six years in Buffalo, he had a three-year stint with the New York Islanders before he signed with the Quebec/Colorado franchise. 1996 he became the first and only German Stanley Cup winner with the Colorado Avalanche when he scored the cup-winning goal in a 1-0 victory against the Florida Panthers after three overtime periods in Game 4.
Krupp, who was the tallest player of the league with 1.96m for many years, later had stints with Detroit and Atlanta. He hoisted the trophy again in 2002 with Detroit even though he had not enough games to be engraved on the Stanley Cup for a second time. The last years of his playing career were marked by various injuries. He retired in autumn 2002 after four regular-season games with Atlanta.
He represented Germany in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games and in two World Championships and was immediately inducted into the German Hockey Hall of Fame after ending his playing career.
Krupp began his coaching career with a junior team in Atlanta before coaching the German U18 and U20 national teams. In 2005 he replaced Greg Poss as the head coach of the men’s national team and led Germany to a tenth place in the 2006 Olympics and to the top division by winning the Division I tournament two months later.
After the 2009 World Championship in neighbouring Switzerland had ended with the second-last place – what would have meant relegation had the Germans not been the hosts for 2010 – success is exactly what Krupp needs to silence his critics.
With the Deutschland Cup in November on home ice in Munich and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, two critical tournaments are waiting for Krupp’s boys prior to the World Championship on home ice.
Footnote: Uwe Krupp’s 18-year-old son Björn debuted in the Ontario Hockey League for the Belleville Bulls last season – as a defenceman of course. He will stay in Canada.