The prestigious award has been given since 1947 as voted by sports journalists. Draisaitl was the clear number-one selection with 1,768 votes followed by Johannes Vetter (javelin throw) with 649 votes, Jan Frodeno (triathlon), Karl Geiger (ski jumping), Thomas Dressen (ski alpine) and Alexander Zverev (tennis). Malaika Mihambo (long jump) was the Sportswoman of the Year, FC Bayern Munich the Team of the Year.
“What a great honor for me to be voted by so many journalists. Thank you for your votes and support. It’s been an incredible year and I am very proud to finish 2020 as Germany’s Athlete of the Year,” Draisaitl wrote on Instagram.
In the long history of the award, Draisaitl has been the first ice hockey player to win it. The only other time ice hockey appeared among the winners at the event held annually in Baden-Baden and broadcast by ZDF was the German men’s national team that won the Team of the Year award in 2018 after winning the Olympic silver medals.
“That Leon made it to the shortlist was already a meaningful and absolutely deserved distinction for him. His selection at Sportsman of the Year as an ice hockey player and team sport athletes has a historical dimension and crowns his outstanding performance in the past NHL season,” said Franz Reindl, President of the German Ice Hockey Association.
“Leon wrote history and it makes us proud. After silver in 2018 and the honouring of our Olympic heroes, this tribute is an unbelievable and a further milestone for the sport of ice hockey.”
For Draisaitl it’s a sweet ending of a year back home just before returning to North America to prepare for the NHL season.
The Cologne native was the NHL’s scoring leader and Art Trophy winner with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games and won two MVP awards, the Hart Trophy voted by hockey journalists as well as the Ted Lindsay Award voted by the NHLPA.
Beside shining for the Edmonton Oilers since 2014, Draisaitl has also represented Germany in five IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships.
A few days ago he also gave the young generation of players at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship tips on life in the bubble following his experience with the Oilers at the same place: