We need to learn about our new favorite team, Eisbären Berlin.
I was sort of on board with rooting for ETC Crimmitschau, Wayne Simmonds' team in Germany's second division, but then I realized it's a second-tier team and chances of ever watching their games are slim to none.
Donbass Donetsk, Ruslan Fedotenko's KHL team, is actively trying to kill the new Flyers forward, playing him for nearly 20 minutes a night. He played about 13 minutes a night with the Rangers last season, and at this pace, we'll be lucky if he has anything left when the NHL season resumes. Not rooting for Donbass.
There's CSKA Moscow, Ilya Bryzgalov's team, but they're the direct descendants of the Red Army club the Flyers so valiantly defeated at the Spectrum back in 1976. It's impossible to root for CSKA as a Flyers fan.
But with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere both signing with the same Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) club on Thursday, it's now a no-brainer which European team we should be rooting for during the NHL lockout.
Let's meet Eisbären Berlin.
The name: Eisbären is German for polar bear. Translated to English, the team is the Berlin Polar Bears. Let's try to be cultured about this, though. Eisbären Berlin. Don't forget the umlaut.
How the hell do I pronounce that? Ice-bear-en Bear-lin, or just click here.
The league: Eisbären Berlin play in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, or DEL. It's the top league in Germany and has 12 teams.
Club history: Eisbären Berlin has roots back to the 1950s, when in 1954, SC Dynamo Berlin added a hockey program. The club went on to win 15 East German titles, the last coming in 1988. After German unification in 1990, the team was promoted to the 1. Bundesliga, which was the top league in Germany.
SC Dynamo Berlin dropped the "SC" (short for Sport Club) in 1990, becoming EHC Dynamo Berlin. (EHC is short for Eishockey club.) In 1992, the team added the polar bear as their mascot, becoming EHC Eisbären Berlin.
The team bounced around between the 1. Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga between 1990 and 1994 when the DEL was formed. After some financial struggles in the early DEL years, the team was purchased by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) in 1999. AEG also owns the Los Angeles Kings.
Eisbären Berlin have won more DEL titles than any other club. They were champions in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. This season, they have a 3-4 record, good for ninth overall in the 12-team league through seven games. We have a feeling Claude Giroux and Danny Briere might help a bit.
Team anthem: Hey, wir wollen die Eisbären sehn by Puhdys
The arena: It's pretty awesome. O2 World opened in 2008. It's hosted NHL regular season games and a multitude of concerts, from Metallica to Lady Gaga. It seats 14,200 for hockey.
Stuff: Jerseys are only $110, but shipping costs are $45 outside of Europe. They have a bunch of other stuff in the team shop on their website, but buying something like a polar bear or a scarf or a hat seems silly when shipping is $45.
Where can I watch games? Via Bill Meltzer, this site often streams DEL games live.
Some more resources...
Here's their official website, in German.