INNSBRUCK, Austria – Will Canadian-born Darcy Werenka be Austrian for the IIHF World Championship Division I or won’t he? That was the question number two within the Austrian ice hockey community, after those regarding Thomas Vanek’s participation. So far, Werenka has only been able to play exhibition games with Team Austria.
The 34-year-old is not a complete unknown in international hockey circles. He played at the 1993 World U20 Championship for his native Canada. From 1997 to 1999, he played in Vienna for Wiener EV. After a year with the Utah Grizzlies and seasons in Finland and Germany, he returned to the Austrian capital and played his fifth season with the Vienna Capitals. He is under contract for two more years with the club.
Playing there for so long (he is also the captain) and known for his gentlemanly conduct – his nickname is “Sir” – he has become nearly as Viennese as a Wiener Schnitzel. Consequently, he applied for an Austrian passport.
After an earlier postponement, the council of ministers was scheduled this morning to look through Werenka’s application again. And finally, everything worked out according to the schedule of the Austrian ice hockey association.
Werenka officially become Austrian this morning. The passport was immediately airmailed from Vienna to Innsbruck as it had to be presented to the championship directorate no later than two hours before the game against the Netherlands.
At 1pm, the passport was already presented in the TWK Arena. Werenka has been cleared to play his first World Championship game for the Austrians tonight. For Austrian head coach Lars Bergstrom, Werenka is a highly welcomed acquisition. The Swede wasn’t too happy about his team’s defensive performance in the 10-5 win against Great Britain. As Robert Lukas has recovered from an injury, Bergstrom can plan with two new defencemen.