(AFP) – May 7, 2008
HALIFAX, Canada (AFP) — Defenceman Jason Holland was tossed out of the World Ice Hockey Championships on Wednesday after the Germany national team failed to disclose all of his past international competitions.
Holland, who just joined the German team this year, said he couldn't believe it when he learned there was a problem with his eligibility.
"It's crazy. They told me I was ineligible," Holland told AFP on Wednesday. "It was an oversight. I was supposed to have played four years in Germany and I only played three."
Holland's problem stems from having played just three years in the German leagues instead of the four needed to qualify for the German national team.
Holland, who recently acquired a German passport to go with his Canadian citizenship, needed four German seasons on his resume because he represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1996.
Holland, who turned 32 last month, joined Germany about the same time as another dual citizen, Chris Schmidt. Unlike Holland, Schmidt did not play in any IIHF international tournaments so his qualifying period was just two years instead of four.
"I wasn't trying to hide anything," Holland said. "I thought I was eligible. Everybody thought I was eligible."
German club general manager Franz Reindl apologized for the mistake Wednesday.
"It is my fault," Reindl said. "I take responsibility. I apologize and hope we still advance to the next round."
It is the responsibility of each hockey federation to ensure its players qualify for the event.
"It is not his fault," Reindl said. "So he shouldn't feel bad."
Holland said he gave up time with his family to follow his dream of playing in a Worlds.
"It was an honest mistake," Holland said. "This was a sacrifice for me to come to this tournament. I had to spend a couple of months away from my family."
Holland was thankful Germany did not lose any points from the games that he played in during the worlds.
Any loss of points could have put them in the relegation round in Halifax. That would mean they would have had to battle three other teams in order to keep their spot in next year's World Championship.
Holland played 81 games in the National Hockey with the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.
Like many NHLers, he left North America during the NHL's lockout season in 2004-05 to play in Europe.
"I was at a crossroads. I was up and down between the NHL and the American Hockey League," said Holland. "I knew going over to Europe would be a good move."
Holland said he would remain in Halifax and attend Wednesday's German game against Norway to cheer on his teammates.
"I feel terrible for the team," Holland said. "I became a dual citizen and that was tricky to do and now this happens.
"It makes it even more tough."
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