The Swiss ice hockey champions, Zurich Lions, have managed to entice one of the country's best players, Mark Streit, back from the United States. The 22-year old defender has signed a two-year contract after failing to extend his stay in America.This content was published on August 1, 2000 - 17:22
Streit's year in the States was a difficult one, involving spells at three different clubs. After playing for the Utah Grizzlies in the IHL and the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks in the East Coast Hockey League, Streit moved into the AHL, where he played for the Springfield Falcons.
The Bernese player had hoped to renew his contract with the Falcons, as part of his long-term aim to reach the sport's top league, the NHL. But he was not included in the draft at the end of June.
News of his release prompted a frenzy amongst Swiss clubs, with Zurich, Lugano, Davos and Berne all eager to sign Streit. The player himself said that sporting reasons had been behind his decision to join Zurich.
"With the Lions I will be fighting not only to defend the league title, but also to win the Continental Cup," he said.
Ultimately, though, Streit's ambition remains the same - to one day make it into the world's top league. "My return to Switzerland doesn't mean that I have written off playing in the NHL," he insisted.
"I will continue my efforts to improve," he added, "and will try again in a few years' time. My goal will also be to accumulate some more scoring points, and of course to put in some good international performances for the club and for Switzerland."
The defender's emphasis on contributing to his teams' attacking moves is one of the attributes which has won him most praise. After increasing his weight while in the States with a dietary and weightlifting programme, he is likely to present an imposing figure to Zurich's opponents.
Streit's return to Switzerland offers some consolation to fans of the domestic league, who in recent weeks have seen five of the country's top players moving in the opposite direction. Arne Ramholt, Reto von Arx, Timo Helbling, Luca Cereda and Thomas Ziegler will all play their hockey abroad as the new season gets underway.
swissinfo with agencies