BERNE, Switzerland – Long-time Swiss national team player Martin Pluss has announced his retirement as a professional player.
The 40-year-old last played in April when he won the Swiss National League with SC Bern – his sixth Swiss championship (1995, 1996, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017) and his seventh national championship including a Swedish title with Frolunda Gothenburg (2005).
For a long time he considered the best centre from the country. A playmaker strong both on offence and defence, and hard to beat on the face-off dot, Pluss spent his entire career with three clubs. He played ten pro seasons with EHC Kloten where he won his first two titles, then had four years in Sweden with Frolunda before joining SC Bern in 2008 where we won four championships and a cup title and was the team captain for most of his time in the Swiss capital city.
Pluss had 692 points in 956 games in Switzerland’s National League and was similarly successful in Sweden (231 games, 147 points). It was arguable only his size (174 cm, 5’9”) that prevented him from becoming a candidate for the NHL.
On the international stage Pluss represented Switzerland in 236 international games including 12 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and four Olympic Winter Games. In his first Worlds Switzerland moved up to a fourth-place finish on home ice in Zurich and Basel in 1998 and in his last World Championship in 2013 he contributed six points in Switzerland’s historic silver-medal win.
Pluss was a role model in Switzerland. With his attitude, his age and his decision about whether and where to play up in the air for many months, one could have called him the Jaromir Jagr of the Alps. Pluss was still in shape, had an overly healthy lifestyle and a 41-point season and was the second-line centre of the champion. And although he couldn’t agree on a new contract with SC Bern after a long and hard negotiation process, there would have been other doors open.
But after following the league play from outside for a couple of weeks he took the decision to quit and making Game 6 of the playoff final on 17th April, where he as the team captain was the first to hoist the trophy, his last competitive game as a player.
“After the last season and the title defence with SC Bern my gut feeling told me that it could be the right moment to stop and set up the priorities in my life differently. I reached the goal to play top-level hockey until 40. Due to the fully available capability to perform, the big passion for ice hockey and various tempting offers it was of course a natural option to continue. But at the same time it was clear for me that at some point it has to be over and I wanted to decide on my own about that moment, which I did after a six-month timeout,” Pluss wrote in a statement.
It's an end after 23 years as a professional hockey player that followed shortly after the retirement of another outstanding Swiss national team player, Mark Streit. Pluss will continue his timeout to spend time with his family and think about his future that he hopes to be in the sport environment.