Coach Draisaitl: Slovak league surprised me
by Juraj Hudak|04 NOV 2019
Czech-born Peter Draisaitl played in numerous international tournaments as a member of the German men's national team, including the 1988, 1992, and 1998 Winter Olympics.

Peter Draisaitl took over the coaching job in HC Kosice this year. In his first experience with the Slovak league, the father of German NHL star Leon Draisaitl expressed his pleasure at the quality of play in the country. 

Prior to coaching, the elder Draisaitl had a great playing career of his own, during which he has participated in seven IIHF World Championships, three Olympic games and one World Cup of Hockey in 1996, where Germany surprisingly beat Czech Republic 7-1 and went through to the quarter-finals against Canada. sat down with the Kosice coach:

How are you getting used to living in Slovakia?

“I liked Kosice since the beginning. I have been with the team more than three weeks during the (2019 IIHF Ice Hockey)World Championship already. That’s why I was able to get more in touch with the city and people in the club. It’s business as usual.”

What has surprised you the most in the Slovak league?

“I can see very good hockey from all teams, which positively surprised me. The league is really competitive. If you are not prepared well, it’s very difficult to think about getting the points.”

Are you satisfied with the team´s performance so far?

“Yes, I am satisfied at the moment. But there is still too much work in front of us. We have a long journey to go, especially the structure of our hockey style. That’s why I really appreciate the opportunity to coach in Kosice.”

You’ve been a coach in Germany and Czech Republic for so long. Do you feel a big difference between coaching there and in Slovakia?

“I don’t feel the difference. When I am on the bench and doing my job, I don’t care If it’s in Mannheim, Prague or Bratislava. That doesn’t make any difference. I am gathering the experience every day and I am happy with that what I have found anywhere.”

You are the type of coach who moved from a playing career straight to the bench. Do you think this kind of coach needs to work harder on the job than career coaches?

“If you want to coach a team, there is no the same day existing in this life. It is a process, which flows over and over again and never stops. If somebody on this place thinks he went through everything he might pay for it tomorrow.”

Do you have an ambition to become a coach of the national team one day?

“I wouldn’t be against it. Getting the trust to coach a national team, it is a big thing. Every coach should think about it, but I can’t say I am dealing with it every day at the moment.”

Do you consider yourself more a German or Czech?

“I wouldn´t say so. I am not looking on myself like that. My life is based at the presence of being in this city, I am like being at home here now and I do my job.”

In 17th of November Czech Republic and Slovakia will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet revolution. You left the country after your parents emigrated to Germany. How hard was this part of your life?

“It wasn’t easy at all. We went on holiday to Yugoslavia. There we just realized, we are not coming back. Me and my sister came to Germany without even knowing a word in German. Basically, we had only the swimsuit on us. Of course, it wasn’t simple for teenagers, but it was nothing to compare what my parent had to go through.”

It had to be really hard, but how do you remember your life before leaving the Czech Republic?

“I had a great childhood. I could play ice hockey and attend the ice hockey school. I had nothing else in my head. I couldn’t complain about anything in that time. But after that it comes what I mention before. Life went upside down and it was necessary to adapt, what I had before me. And that’s how I see it until today.”

You continued playing hockey in Germany, where you made the national team. Once you participated in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where you went to the quarter-finals through the huge 7-1 victory over the Czechs. How do you remember it?

“That was very interesting story. We didn’t really count on it. That game was in Europe and the result decided on the last advancing team. Tickets had already been booked for Czech players. I do not know if I remember well, but I think, I had the same flights to the tournament with (Jaromir) Jagr.”

In quarter-finals you were facing the Canada. You’ve scored opening goal of the game, but Germany lost it 4-1 finally.

“Despite that it was big adventure. We played in Montreal against Canada a we performed very well. The world wasn’t connected so much as it now in that time and it was something special for every one of us. It was one of my biggest experience in my active carrier for sure.”

In Edmonton your son Leon Draisaitl must be experiencing something similar, where he become one of the biggest stars of NHL. Did you ever think he has that big talent in him?

“I doped him with hockey every day, but I never pushed him to something. When it was needed, I helped him. When he left to Canada at 16, it was starting to be interesting. At that time, I thought there he might be something of it. Then he finished high in junior draft and later in NHL draft too. Since that time, we have begun to think about getting it to the NHL. Meanwhile, he’s still stuck there.”

Reportedly he even watches how Kosice is doing?

“He was always a big fan of the teams I led. No matter where I was, whether it was Mannheim, Cologne or Pardubice, he is always no. one of my teams.”