(AFP) – May 1, 2008
HALIFAX, Canada (AFP) — John Tripp didn't have to think twice when asked if he would like to play in Europe during the National Hockey League's lock out season.
Tripp, who turns 31 on Sunday, says the move not only advanced his hockey career but provided him with a comfortable living and opened doors he never thought possible.
"It was the best decision," said the former Los Angeles Kings forward on Thursday. "I prolonged my career and I get to play on the national team and possibly the Olympics at the same time."
Tripp holds dual German and Canadian citizenship. He is in Halifax for the IIHF World Hockey Championships as a member of the German national team.
He loves his new life in Europe, and says the money isn't bad either.
"We play less games and I get an apartment and a car," said Tripp, who plays for the Hamburg Freezers. "The money is comparable to the American Hockey League so it would have been tough to turn down."
Like Tripp, Jason Holland couldn't at first imagine anything positive coming out of the National Hockey League's lock out. He is now looking at staying in Europe long term.
The NHL locked out its players for one season in 2004-05, leaving many with Europe as their only playing option.
"I was at a crossroads. I was up and down," said Holland, who was a teammate of Tripp's on the Kings and now plays with him on the German national team.
"After the lock out I floated my name around but the only interest I got from the NHL was a two-way contract. I knew going over to Europe would be a good move.
"It is a chance to play at a high level of hockey. It is exciting to play when you are challenged at every level."
Joining Tripp and Holland on Germany for the Worlds is another former King, and dual citizen, Chris Schmidt.
Tripp said he knew at the time it was the right move to head to Europe. He wanted more stability in his life and didn't enjoy going back and forth between Los Angeles and their farm team in Manchester.
"If I got a full commitment from an NHL team I would have stayed but I was up and down all the time," Tripp said.
Holland, who plays for ERC Ingolstadt, wants to make the most of the Worlds and simply enjoy it for what it is.
"I am not approaching this as a chance to get noticed again," Holland said. "I just want to enjoy playing hockey and make a living at the same time.
"The German league is a good league. We only play 55 games and I am making Euros. All my expenses are paid for. I just have to pay for my gas and food."
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