It seemed as though Claude Giroux was on his way to either the KHL or the Czech league. The influence of Jaromir Jagr made it look like G's decision was down to two clubs: Jagr's former KHL team, Avangard Omsk, or his current Czech Extraliga club, HC Kladno.
But in a pretty unforeseen decision, Giroux has instead decided to join teammate Danny Briere in Germany. The two will play for Eisbären Berlin, a club in Germany's top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, or DEL. ESPN.com reported the news. Eisbären Berlin has won six of the last eight DEL championships, including the last two.
Briere and Giroux won't be seeing much of Wayne Simmonds -- at least not on the ice. Simmonds opted to sign with a team in the German Bundesliga, the second tier of pro hockey in Germany, because limits on foreign players in the DEL would have prevented him from playing with friend and fellow NHLer Chris Stewart. They instead opted to sign with ETC Crimmitschau, a team from a small-town roughly three hours south of Berlin.
Eisbären Berlin is owned by AEG, the owner of the Los Angeles Kings and L.A.'s Staples Center. They play in the four-year-old O2 World arena in Berlin, which holds 14,200 for hockey and hosted an NHL Premiere regular season game between the Kings and Buffalo Sabres at the beginning of last season.
Eisbären Berlin is coached by former NHL assistant Don Jackson. 10 North American-born players are on the roster, excluding Briere and Giroux.
Guess we have a team to root for now, guys. No word on when they'll arrive in Berlin, but the team is in action tomorrow night and Sunday. They'll then five days off before playing again next Friday evening.