NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Seguin a Swiss star

Locked-out Bruin burning it up in Biel with 20 goals in 20 games

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It is awfully hard to miss Tyler Seguin these days.

Not only is the locked-out NHL forward tearing up the Swiss hockey league, he's doing it in style. Seguin stands out among his EHC Biel teammates on the ice because of the bright yellow helmet he wears -- an honour bestowed on the top-scoring player for each team in Switzerland.

The 20-year-old has been an offensive force with 20 goals in 20 games, making him the most-productive NHLer in a league that includes Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, John Tavares and Logan Couture, among others.

In fact, Seguin has even managed to exceed his own expectations so far.

"I had no idea what to expect when I came to Switzerland," he told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper recently. "The league is very competitive -- the speed and the talent level of the players has surprised me. It took me some time and effort to get used to it.

"Scoring goals is never easy; I didn't do very well at the beginning. Now I just hope to continue playing well like I have been lately."

The trip abroad has also come with new opportunities. After seasons of 22 and 67 points with the Boston Bruins, it was reasonable to expect that Seguin would have made another leap forward during his third year in the NHL.

However, he likely wouldn't have been relied upon by Boston as much as he is in Biel, where he's been used in virtually every situation. That was seen last weekend against Bern when he blocked a shot while killing a penalty and scored on a short-handed breakaway.

Seguin has seen virtually no time on the penalty kill during his young NHL career and made reference to his new role on Twitter on Monday: "Got a short handed goal the other night. Wonder if @NHLBruins will see it. blockshots"

The time away could really benefit Seguin if the NHL lockout is resolved and a short regular-season schedule begins quickly. He's clearly in game shape -- something many NHLers won't be -- and should have plenty of confidence after a stint in Switzerland where he has scored three hat tricks.

Seguin was one of the first players to sign in Europe once the work stoppage came into effect in September. Asked by Swiss journalists recently why he chose Biel, he replied: "I just wanted to play hockey."

-- -- --

More than 200 locked-out NHL players have signed deals in Europe, with varying results. Here's a look at three notable performers:

Patrik Berglund, Vasteras (Sweden): Patrik Berglund is giving his hometown team more than its money's worth. Much, much more. That's because the St. Louis Blues centre chose to play for free during the lockout in an effort to give back to the hockey organization that helped him reach the NHL. Berglund is more than doing his part with 16 goals and 25 points in 20 games.

-- -- --

Jaromir Jagr, HC Kladno (Czech Republic): Is there anything the 40-year-old winger can't do? Already the owner and president of his hometown team, Jagr is also its leading scorer with 36 points in 22 games. That is the highest total of any locked-out NHLer currently playing in Europe.

-- -- --

Paul Bissonnette, Cardiff Devils (Great Britain): The Twitter star is showing that he has some game -- at least when playing a few rungs below the NHL. Known primarily as a fighter with the Phoenix Coyotes, Bissonnette is an offensive star in Cardiff, where he put up six goals and 16 points in his first seven games. That was good enough to see him named player of the week. Just as surprisingly, the heavyweight has yet to drop his gloves and fight.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 28, 2012 C9

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