MONTREUX, Switzerland – The Swiss Ice Hockey Association celebrated its Centennial on Saturday in Montreux, exactly 100 years after its foundation in Les Avants.
The Swiss hockey family, IIHF national associations and even Swiss Minister of Sport Samuel Schmid were among the 700 guests.
Swiss hockey legends were celebrated along with foreign players who left their mark in the Alpine country. Vyacheslav Bykov, current coach of the Russian national team made the trip to join his family that still lives in Switzerland.
The annual award ceremony was also included in the 100-year event. Fribourg-Gottéron forward Julien Sprunger was named the MVP of the National League A and Davos netminder Leonardo Genoni was named Youngster of the Year. Sprunger also announced his intent to sign an NHL contract in 2009-2010.
Caroline R. Plante, the widow of the goalie legend Jacques Plante, was present to honour Finn Ari Sulander (ZSC Lions Zurich) as the goaltender of the year with the Jacques Plante Trophy.
Mark Streit won the “Hockey Award” for the second consecutive year. The prize goes to a person not playing in the Swiss league. The defenceman had an impressive season with the Montreal Canadiens and which earned him a five-year, $20.5m contract with the New York Islanders, making him one of the best-paid Swiss athletes.
Sprunger was not the only Fribourg-native who received an award as IIHF President René Fasel was given the Special Award by Samuel Schmid. The award honours a personality for extraordinary contributions to Swiss ice hockey. Prior to his election as IIHF President in 1994, Fasel was working for the Swiss association as president, referee in chief and referee.