How the COVID-19 Pandemic Helped Moritz Seider Prepare for the NHL | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW

It would be difficult to find many athletes who would describe the impact of COVID-19 on their careers as positive. Moritz Seider is one of those rare cases.

The 20-year-old defender had hoped to crack the Detroit Red Wings lineup at the start of last season. Seider was sixth overall by the Red Wings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and spent the 2019-20 season with their farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. The idea was to give the German defender time to adjust to the smaller ice area and more physical play in North America.

By the fall of 2020, Seider believed he was ready to make the big club, but the pandemic numbed that idea. The National Hockey League (NHL) didn’t start its season until mid-January, while a planned loan to its former German club, the Mannheim Eagles, fell through as Germany’s DEL couldn’t start the season until mid-December.

‘Year in Sweden incredibly good for me’

It was then that the Red Wings received a call from Sweden. In the end, they sent Seider to Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League, who started playing as usual in September. The club, based in Angelholm in the south of the country, turned out to be a perfect fit.

Moritz Seider

Moritz Seider (left) spent his second season as a pro with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League

“The year in Sweden was incredibly good for me,” Seider told DW.

He gained “a lot of confidence” in a competition considered one of the best in Europe. The games are “very close” and the play is often “end-to-end”, making for very exciting matches, both on the ice and in the stands.

It was there that Seider, who first hit the ice in the East German city of Erfurt as a four-year-old, learned that after a bad game, the most important thing is to make sure you “perform your best” in the next game.

Not only Seider succeeded last season, but also his club. Rogle BK had their most successful season ever, reaching the final of the playoffs, losing four games to one to the Vaxjo Lakers. As a consolation prize, Seider was named the league’s best defender.

Strong World Championship

His next stop was the World Championship in Latvia, where Seider helped Germany finish in a respectable fourth place en route to the title of best defender of the tournament. Seider’s performance in Sweden and at the World Cup did not go unnoticed by Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill.

Moritz Seider

Moritz Seider (left) was named top defender at the 2021 World Championship

“The fact that he got those awards in Sweden and the World Cup gives you confidence that he can do a good job,” DW told a news conference recently. “We didn’t know how well and how quickly he would become an impact player.”

Last summer, Seider traveled to Detroit, determined to make the Wings as a top-four defender — the AHL or Europe just weren’t options anymore.

“I think I showed a lot,” emphasized Seider.

As if to drive home his determination to stay with the big club, he chose not to move to a hotel room, but instead to an apartment in the Detroit area.

NHL Rookie of the Month

A month into the season, Moritz Seider has won his first NHL award, having been selected as October’s Rookie of the Month in the league.

“Hopefully this is just the start of something really big,” said Seider, who earned the award in part by providing eight assists during his appearance in all nine Red Wings games during the month of October. Since then, he has added his first NHL goal – the winner in extra time in a game against the Buffalo Sabers.

His production is certainly not harmed by the fact that he logs an average of more than 22 minutes per game. Blashill fully appreciates the babyface talent with dark curly hair who wears number 53 on his back, but says he still needs to unleash his true potential.

“He’s got a lot of physical abilities, he’s a big guy (1.93 meters and 90 kilograms, or 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds), he can skate, he is athletic, he has a good skill set from a hockey standpoint, Blashill said of the defender, who is already being used as a quarterback in power play.

“Our job is to help him go from a really good talent to a great player.”

Among those closely following Seider’s development is former Boston Bruin Dennis Seidenberg, whose 859 regular-season NHL games are more than any other German defender. When he watches his compatriot play, his ‘presence, his smoothness on the ice and his aggressiveness, which you need to be successful as a defender, stand out.

Boston Bruins defender Dennis Seidenberg raises the Stanley Cup

Former German defender Dennis Seidenberg says Moritz Seider has all the tools

Like Seider, Seidenberg was also once named top defender at a World Championship. But Seidenberg had much more experience when he took over at the age of 35 in 2017, when he played more than 800 NHL games, competed in three Winter Olympics and four World Championships, and won a Stanley Cup. Seider, on the other hand, had just turned 20 last spring.

Coach Blashill didn’t want to know if Seider could have made the jump to the NHL a year ago.

“It’s hard to say,” Blashill said. “But what I do know is that the year in Sweden and the World Cup helped him grow as a hockey player.

For his part, Moritz Seider does not regret the delay in getting his shot at the NHL – even if it was due to extenuating circumstances.

“Sometimes you just need a little more time,” he said.

This article has been adapted from German

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