How the covid-19 pandemic helped Moritz Seider prepare for the NHL | Sport | German football and major international sports news | DW
You would be hard pressed to find many athletes who would describe the impact of the pandemic on their careers as positive. Moritz Seider is one of the rare cases.
The 20-year-old defender had hoped to break the Detroit Red Wings lineup early last season. After being selected as the sixth overall by the Red Wings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Seider spent the 2019-20 season with their farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League. The idea was to give the German defender time to adapt to the smaller ice surface and more physical play in North America.
In the fall of 2020, Seider thought he was ready to make the big club, but the pandemic interrupted that thought. The National Hockey League (NHL) did not start its season until mid-January, while a planned loan to his former German club, Mannheim Eagles, fell when the German DEL failed to start its season until mid-December.
“The year in Sweden is incredibly good for me”
That was when the Red Wings got a call from Sweden. They ended up sending Seider to Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League, which started playing as usual in September. The club based in Ängelholm in the south of the country turned out to be a perfect fit.
Seider (left) spent his second professional season with Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League
“The year in Sweden was incredibly good for me,” Seider told DW.
He gained “a lot of confidence” in a league that is considered one of the best in Europe. The games are “very close”, and the game tends to be very “end-to-end”, which gives very exciting competitions both on the ice and in the stands.
This is where Seider, who first hit the ice as a 4-year-old in the East German city of Erfurt, learned that after a bad game, the most important thing is to make sure you “perform at your best” in the next competition.
Not only did Seider succeed last season, but so did his club. Rogle BK had their most successful season ever and made it all the way to the playoff final, where they lost four games to one against Växjö Lakers. As something of a consolation prize, Seider was named the league’s best defensive player.
Strong world championship
His next stop was the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Cup in Latvia, where Seider helped Germany finish in a respectable fourth place on the way to being named the best defender in the tournament. Seider’s performances in Sweden and at the Worlds did not go unnoticed by Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill.
Moritz Seider (left) was named best defender at the 2021 World Cup
“The fact that he received those awards in Sweden and the World Cup gives you confidence that he can do a good job,” Blashill told DW at a recent press conference. “We did not know how well and how quickly he would become an effects player.”
Last summer, Seider traveled to Detroit, determined to make the Wings a top four defensive player – the AHL and Europe were simply no longer an option.
“I think I showed a lot,” Seider stressed.
As if to drive home his determination to stick to the big club, he chose not to move into a hotel room, but instead take an apartment in the Detroit area.
Rookie of the Month in the NHL
One month into the season, Seider has his first NHL award, after being selected as the league’s rookie for October.
“Hopefully this is just the beginning of something really big,” said Seider, who received the award in part by recording eight assists while appearing in all nine Red Wings games in October. Since then, he has added his first NHL goal: the winner of overtime in a game against the Buffalo Sabers.
His production is certainly not damaged by the fact that he has logged an average of well over 22 minutes per match. Blashill appreciates the talent of the baby face with dark curly hair wearing number 53 on his back, but says he still has to fulfill his true potential.
“He has lots of physical abilities, he is a big guy (1.93 meters and 90 kilos, or 6 feet-3 and 198 pounds), he can skate, he is athletic, he has good skills from a hockey point of view.” Blashill said about the defender, who is already used as a quarterback in power play.
“Our job is to help him go from being a really good talent to a great player,” Blashill said.
Among the people who follow Seider’s development closely is former Boston Bruin Dennis Seidenberg, whose 859 NHL games in the regular season are more than any other German defender. When he sees his countryman play, what stands out is his “presence, his agility on the ice and his aggressiveness, which you need to be successful as a defender.”
Former German defender Dennis Seidenberg says Seider has all the tools
Like Seider, Seidenberg was once named top defender at a world championship. But Seidenberg was much more experienced when he took the credit at the age of 35 in 2017, when he had played more than 800 NHL games, participated in three Winter Olympics and four world championships and won a Stanley Cup. Seider, on the other hand, had just turned 20 this spring.
Blashill refused to be drawn into whether Seider could have taken the step 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 crack in the NHL – even if it was due to mitigating circumstances.
“Sometimes you just need a little more time,” he said.
This article is adapted from German