DAVOS, Switzerland – Monday in Canada’s huge 7-2 Spengler Cup victory over host HC Davos, New Glasgow’s Derrick Walser was on the ice as the final seconds ticked off the clock. When the final horn sounded Walser didn’t know what to do in celebration.
“This is the first time where I didn’t know what to do,” said Walser. “I didn’t know if we were going to throw gloves in the air or what we were going to do. You’re talking about guys who have won Stanley Cups and huge things in their career. This is a big deal for Canada so everyone was sort of looking to see if we were going to throw gloves in the air or do this nice and organized.
“It caught me off guard and I just ended up taking off my helmet and gloves and laying them on the back of the net and gave a nice courtesy celebration.”
Picking up a goal and assist in the final, Walser was acknowledged at the end of the game on TV by TSN broadcasters as the standout non-NHL player on Team Canada. Hearing about it from his brother, he said it was special to be recognized for his performance.
“I thought the whole team played great, but it’s always nice to get acknowledged for playing well,” said Walser. “When you play with that many good players on one team it really makes your job easier. I just wanted to play solid, play a conservative game and let the forwards do the work. We had all of our skill up front and we just wanted to keep the puck out of our zone. It’s some of the best hockey I’ve played in a long time especially coming off an injury. It’s great for my confidence going into the next 20 games of the season.”
Winning by a large margin didn’t take away from the tournament victory according to Walser. He said although the first few games of the tournament don’t mean much, those games are what led to a rested Team Canada and tired HC Davos team.
“If you end up winning your first two games you get some breaks between your games and the final was Davos’ fifth game in four and a half days,” said Walser. “We came off two days’ rest, played a game and were 100 per cent fresh for the final. It’s always nice to win, but you always like to play a team at their best. It’s just the way the tournament’s set up and they had a tough road to climb. We were a good hockey team, but it would be nice to play them fresh again.
“A win’s a win in my books and they had a chance to play us when they were fresh, but didn’t show up and we took advantage of it.”
The biggest thing he took out of the tournament was how good the NHL players were and how great they are as people.
“You can watch any game on TV, but the speed and intelligence of those guys is hard to notice until you’re around them and see how they prepare,” said Walser. “When they get it going they’re tough to stop no matter who you are. I think that’s the most important thing is that it was such an honour to play with them and to win with them made it better. To see how good they are, it’s a highlight of my career to play with a team that was that skilled.”
He gets little time to relish in the victory as his Swiss National League team, Rapperswil-Jona, is back in action on Wednesday. Walser said his kids will be resting over the next few days after a long week, but for him playing right away is just part of the business of playing hockey.
“For all the guys going back it’s a lot different type of game,” he said. “You’re playing with guys that are nowhere near the level we just played with and the best thing for me is to keep it simple. Sometimes I try to do too much, but I think I learned a lot this week by having my minutes spread. Everyone was playing between 17 to 21 minutes depending on the game and I realized when you’re fresh you don’t make the mistakes. I’m hoping I can take that and apply that to the team to be more successful for the rest of the season.”