Draisaitl is a name German ice hockey fans know like Kühnhackl or Krupp: for 18 years, Leons' father Peter Draisaitl played in German professional ice hockey. Born in Czechoslovakia, the senior was one of the most successful players for both the Mannheim ERC and the Cologne Sharks: He was a centre forward, just like his son today, and also played for the German national team (including at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville). Meanwhile, Peter Draisaitl has been working as a coach for 20 years. A life for ice hockey - right down to his super-talented son. He inherited his understanding of the game from his father, says Draitsaitl Junior.
The Canadians greeted him as "German Gretzky" after Leon Draisaitl joined the Edmonton Oilers as an 18-year-old. That's where Wayne Gretzky had his most successful time. "A little over the top," Draisaitl thought of the nickname at the start of his career. But the German has actually managed to live up to expectations. To emulate, though, he finds the career of another superstar. He would love to create hype like Dirk Nowitzki has done for basketball in Germany, Draisaitl said early on. "I would do anything for that."
Leon Draisaitl wears the number 29 - and has done so forever. He got his trademark number from an ice hockey player whose name even ice hockey freaks don't know: Ben Thomson, a now 39-year-old Canadian who played in the second German league in Ravensburg until 2012. That's where Draisaitl's father, Peter, was coach at the time. "That was my favorite player back then, he was always super-correct to me," the ice hockey superstar recalls to "ran" about his childhood hero. Thomson "always talked a lot of nonsense to me," which made the
There's cuddling and tight dancing, and everyone gets to watch: Celeste Desjardins' Instagram account is also a highlight for Draisaitl fans. The 25-year-old model and actress is Leon Draisaitl's girlfriend. And the two are giving a little bit of insight into their relationship on the Canadian's social media activity. "She gives me an incredible amount of support," Draisaitl said after being voted the NHL's most valuable player a year ago.
It goes without saying that an exceptional athlete often wins awards. In the case of Leon Draisaitl, the most important sporting success is certainly his election as MVP - the most valuable player in the world's best professional ice hockey league, the NHL. But for the home viewer, another choice stands out. Draisaitl was named Sportsman of the Year last year. He is the first hockey player to win the award, and only the second team athlete ever to win the vote, after Dirk Nowitzki. Neither a Lothar Matthaeus nor a Thomas Mueller could ever boast the title. "His selection as Sportsman of the Year as an ice hockey player and team sportsman has historic dimensions and crowns his outstanding achievements in the past NHL season," said a delighted Franz Reindl, President of the German Ice Hockey Federation.
In 2017 Leon Draisaitl signed a contract in Edmonton that runs until 2025 and brings him a total of 68 million US dollars. Sounds a lot, is a lot - but still probably not even the salary cap achievable for Draisaitl. Because there have long been voices that see him as significantly more valuable. Presumably, negotiations will soon begin to determine whether his contract will be beefed up accordingly. We don't begrudge him that, as Draisaitl works with the highest degree of professionalism. For years, for example, he has been doing a training camp in the summer, which he pays for privately and where several trainers take care of his fitness. "I've worked extremely hard to become the player I am today."
If he eventually makes good on the words from the start of his career in the U.S., an entire city will rejoice. "I'm a Cologne native and always will be. I want to play here again," said Draisaitl in 2016. He had started playing ice hockey with the Haie bambini. But until he plays again for the Cologne Sharks in the DEL, there are still many successful years to come in the USA. But at the end of his NHL career, he can well imagine: "I've always been a Haie and FC fan. There is only one option," he said at the time to the Rhenish Post.