“Proud of my attitude”
by Mateja Vodiskar|15 OCT 2018
Marcel Rodman has been among the key players of the Slovenian national team for many years.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
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One of the best Slovenian hockey players of the last decade and a half, 36-year-old Marcel Rodman, finished his professional career during summer. He started playing on a professional level in his hometown of Jesenice in 2001 and quickly became an important member of the Slovenian national team.

Since 2001, he has competed in 14 World Championship tournaments, four Olympic qualification tournaments and two Olympic Winter Games. He scored 40 goals in 184 games for the national team. The 2001 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship B-Pool in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana was a successful start with the Slovenian national team as Slovenia qualified for the top division for the first time. Rodman scored two goals: “I especially remember the goal against Croatia. We won that game 15-1. And I scored against Estonia, too.” In the 2002 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Sweden Rodman was shining for Slovenia and scored a goal in each of his six games.

Rodman announced the ending of his career with an emotional post on social media: “After 17 seasons of professional hockey, it’s time to turn the next page of my life story. I am very fortunate to call my career a very successful one. There have been lots of accomplishments that I am proud of and for that I would like to thank every teammate, every coach and every staff member I had a pleasure to work with. Throughout my career, I had met a lot of awesome people that I call friends and for that I will be forever grateful. I would like to say special thanks to my dad, who introduced me to this wonderful sport, who spent all my childhood and most of my teenage years teaching me what it means to be an athlete, and shaping me into what I became later. I lost him way too early, but I know he saw and is proud of my accomplishments from somewhere up above. Special thanks also go to my mom, who always supported me, wherever the hockey road took me and is just as proud as my dad. If my parents gave me a great foundation to what I was becoming, my beautiful wife shaped me into what I am today. So last but not least huge thanks go to my wife and kids. I could not have done all this without your love and support. We have accomplished a lot together, and I have no doubt there is a lot more coming. Let the next chapter of my life begin...”
 
He is not planning to organize any special events: “I don’t have any plans for something like that. This is what others are saying I should do. But for me this is not the end. I am just ending one part of the story. I think there should be other reasons to organize a special game or other event, not only ending my professional playing career.”

Modest as always, he emphasizes that hockey is a team sport, when asked what he considers to be his greatest achievement: “The biggest success is definitely playing at the Olympic Games twice. If you take the number of Slovenian hockey players into consideration, this achievement is enormous. It was a highlight nobody ever thought could be possible. That is why we never even wished for it, since everybody thought it was completely unrealistic. I am proud of the fact that I was selected in the NHL draft, too. That is another thing I never thought of. I actually did not even know what the NHL was. But nevertheless, I came very close to playing among the best in the world. I will never forget my first day at the camp for Boston’s newcomers; precisely on that unhappy September 11, 2001... There are many other events I will remember forever. I am proud to have won the 2nd Bundesliga [in Germany]. Maybe this does not mean much to anyone, but that season was great. When you think of it all together, these achievements are just some of the cherries on the cake. But most of all, I am most proud of my attitude and the human aspect of my career. I am happy about the fact that I can always go back to all the clubs where I played and to all the players that I've played with, and everybody shows joy when they see me. That is what means the most.”

Rodman has played for Acroni Jesenice, Graz, KAC Klagenfurt, Krefeld Pinguine, the Vienna Capitals, Medvescak Zagreb, in Germany for the Bietigheim-Bissingen Steelers, Schwenninger Wild Wings, Dresden, and most recently in Bad Tolz. For many years he was also the captain of the Slovenian national team, which unexpectedly played in two Olympic tournaments; first in Sochi and a few months ago in PyeongChang, too.

“Both times I never thought we could make it. But we made it. It was incredible. From an individual point of view, I had a much larger role in Sochi. And it was our first Olympic tournament. There were all the NHL stars. Nevertheless, I cannot say that the first was a better experience than the latter. The opening ceremony was definitely better in Russia. But the whole experience was similar. Being in the Olympic village and a part of the whole story is always special. Both of them were great,” says Rodman, who almost missed the Games in Korea: “I had a pretty bad knee injury, which happened 12 days before going to Korea. Obviously, my desire to play in the Olympics was so huge, and the support of everyone was so big, that I pushed the pain aside and did the best I could. The knee is well again and this is not the reason I couldn’t play at the highest level again. But the decision is final and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”

The new chapter of his life already began, as he moved to Zagreb at the beginning of August, where he will assist his friend and former teammate Aaron Fox as a hockey operations advisor and assistant coach: “Last year I already decided to end my career, but then I got the offer from Bad Tolz to play in the DEL2. Since the Olympic Games were also on the calendar, the offer was so appealing I could not resist. After the end of the season I said, I will decide when I see what the time brings. I talked to Aaron Fox and he explained the idea of being his assistant. If somebody had given me such an opportunity ten years ago, I would immediately have said yes. But it's not ten years ago and I'm not alone. I have a family and therefore the decision is more difficult. My family always supports me and they know how great this opportunity is. That's why I took it and will try to do the best that I can.”

He previously worked as an assistant coach in Dresden during his playing break due to injury. He is eager to do it again: “I love responsibility, I feel capable of doing it, but I am aware of the fact that it is necessary to learn something each year and aware of the need to show something before planning anything bigger. I am looking forward to the opportunities I will get. I will try to learn as much as possible, but I do not have firmly defined goals or desires. I will go step by step.” He thinks there is a lot more he has to learn before he could work as a head coach, let alone as a coach of the national team.

Unlike many other athletes, who are not sure what they will do after their careers and are afraid of their future, Rodman thinks he can achieve a lot in his new workplace: “I believe I can do well on both of the new positions. I feel capable, I trust in my qualities. I actually never really thought of being a coach, but I had a few opportunities already and I enjoyed every moment of it.”