The loyal soul departs silently

Marc Gianola forced to retire after 17 years with Davos

26.10.2009
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After 17 years in the Davos jersey, a knee injury has forced four-time Swiss champion Marc Gianola to retire. Photo: Michael Zanghellini / HC Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland – It was not a huge transfer in 1993. HC Davos was promoted to the National League A and signed Marc Gianola from the regional third-tier team in St. Moritz.

The then-19-year-old defenceman never became a star player. It didn’t fit his personality of a hard-fighting, loyal team player that doesn’t attract too much attention and doesn’t need fame.

On Saturday, when he announced his retirement after 17 years with Davos, eight days before his 36th birthday, the media came out to cover the story of Gianola’s exceptional career with his only professional team.

Supporters from the entire country paid respects to Gianola on various fan message boards. Exceptional words for an exceptional player. While Davos players often get offers from other teams, Gianola never thought about leaving Davos and preferred to play in the mountains he loves.

Gianola couldn’t fully hide his emotions when he made the announcement to Swiss T.V.

“The doctors advised me to resign,” Gianola said, suffering from a complicated knee injury that would likely have sidelined him for a year.

Gianola only played four games in this season, two games in September, and again for the Victoria Cup exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He had his last game on October 3 on the road in Ambrì-Piotta.

He looked back to a successful career on the Davos defence. “It was a great time in Davos. It was more than 16 years I would not want to have missed,” Gianola said.

The two-way defenceman won four Swiss championships with Davos, the last three as the team captain. He played twice in the European Champions Cup and won three Spengler Cups. In total he appeared in 834 NLA games (56 goals, 175 assists) including a record 173 playoff games.

Only the national team wasn’t a triumph for Gianola. Although he played 46 games in the Swiss jersey, his only major tournament was the 1997 B-Pool World Championship. Gianola remained on the national team later, but he was cut before the World Championships several times.

Gianola leaves a hole as a reliable defenceman at HC Davos, and as one of the most credible players in Swiss ice hockey.

Switzerland notebook:
  • A game in Switzerland had to be cancelled because a spectator set off a smoke-bomb in the arena. Zug vs. Zurich was cancelled after three minutes of play. The game was declared a 5-0 forfeit victory for Zug because the offender was a Zurich fan, however, Zurich plans to appeal against the verdict.
  • Davos and the SCL Tigers Langnau traded imports. Austrian national team forward Oliver Setzinger leaves for Davos on Friday while Alexandre Daigle will be loaned to Langnau for the remainder of the season. Both will meet their former teams on Friday when Langnau hosts Davos.
  • Some former NHL players joined the Swiss league after being cut from the NHL camps with Michel Ouellet (Fribourg), Mark Bell (Kloten) and Brett McLean (Bern).
  • Defenceman Beat Forster won’t play at the 2010 Olympics because he will become father in February. Forster represented Switzerland in the 2006 Olympics and in six World Championships.
  • National team coach Ralph Krueger said that the chance of seeing any rookies on the Olympic roster is low when asked about Damien Brunner, the surprising scoring leader of the Swiss league. After 17 games, the Zug forward has 25 points. However, there could be an exception with naturalized forward Hnat Domenichelli, who will debut for Switzerland at the Deutschland Cup in Munich.
  • The SCL Tigers are safe for now. The club found the money to play the season and will move one of the two home games against SC Bern to the archrival’s 17,131-capacity PostFinance Arena to earn more money.

MARTIN MERK


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