The trade that didn’t sent Montreal Canadiens defenceman Raphael Diaz to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 3. Diaz got dealt back to his youth.
The 28-year-old defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens trade put Diaz into the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic on Sunday (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It brought back memories of playing outside in his native Switzerland, as a child and an expert.
According to the sources – “When I was younger we played a lot outside, tournaments and stuff,” Diaz said. “When the sun was shining you put on zinc – what do you call it here? Eye black? The team manager was waiting at the door before you went out and everybody got a swipe under the eyes. If it was snowing or even raining, as a kid you just played and had fun.”
Playing outside got a little more challenging as a professional in the top Switzerland League. Among the road match Diaz played during his 9 seasons with EV-Zug was a stop at Hockey Club Ambrì-Piotta in a partially exposed arena built in 1959 year.
Diaz added – “During the winter it was so cold, and when the wind came in from the open end it was not so fun to play there. You knew after that game you were going to be sick, so it was a little painful. Diaz took to drinking tea on the bench to try to stay warm.
Though most Vancouver players grew up skating on frozen ponds, few have taken part in outdoor games as professionals. Mockingly, the player that Diaz was traded for, forward Dale Weise, may have been the other player Canucks sought out for outdoor advice.