Back in those days, there were barely to no coverage of NHL Games in Germany. There was a weekly format called „NHL Power Week“ on Deutsches Sport Fernsehen and some selected games were broadcasted on Premiere PayTV.
Other than that, we only had a weekly magazine called „Eishockey News“.
I attended hockey games in Germany of the Nuremberg Ice Tigers from 1995 on. Roman Turek was our Goalie who would go on to have a nice NHL career with Dallas, Calgary and the Blues. Later we had Steven Reinprecht there. His number hangs now under the rafters. Visiting one of my first games back in 1995, I saw a few fans in the stand wearing other Jerseys than the Ice Tigers jerseys. They wore NHL Jerseys. I remember asking my cousin: “Heiko, what
are these jerseys?“ Those are NHL jerseys, from America.“ “They play there hockey too?“ “Yes, you can read about it in the Eishockey News, I have a subscription. You can have my issue every week after I finished reading it.“
Back in those days, there was no Google or EliteProspects, so I began to read. I read about the German players like Uwe Krupp, Ollie Kolzig and later Marco Sturm and Jochen Hecht. With my new knowledge about the existence of hockey outside the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, I began to research and after Uwe scored the now-famous goal, I said to my parents: „I know him, I‘m a fan of him, I‘m a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. I need a jersey!“
Meanwhile, my mum bought me two Hockey Games for my GameBoy. One was NHL ́95, the other one was Blades of Steel. I inserted NHL into my GameBoy, selected “Play Now“ and began searching for my newest favorite team, I searched and searched… “Mum, this game sucks, there is no Avalanche in there!!“ Little did I know that indeed the Nordiques were in the game.
Back to my Jersey wish. Even back in time, there was a US-shop in Nuremberg where they sold some Jerseys. They had NBA Jerseys from Jordan and Pippen and some NFL Jerseys as long as flags and scarfs of various Soccer Teams. But nothing from the Avalanche or any other NHL Team. Disappointed, my Mum invited me for ice cream at the nearby Karstadt Market. Unexpectedly, they had NHL stuff there! Besides the Jaromir Jagr Pens Jersey and some Jerseys without Name and Numbers, there was also an Avalanche Jersey and an Avalanche Starter Jacket. “I want this jersey so bad!!“ “$100 for a Jersey is too much, son. Where you gonna wear it?“ „Everyday!“ “No, that’s too much. But you can have the jacket if you want to.“ „Better than nothing!”
I wore my jacket proudly to school every day (and later got the jersey anyway). Soon after I got my first non-IceTigers-jersey, a friend of mine called me from Calgary. „They have a Jersey here. It‘s the same logo as on your jacket. Do you want it?“ “Sure! I give you the money as soon as you‘re back in Germany.“ I didn‘t even ask for the price or if there was a name on the jersey.
That’s how I got my first real Jersey. The white than-home Jersey of Joe Sakic. As time moved on, we finally got Internet and I read everything I could. I bought every NHL Game for Playstation and still do to this day.
Internet became faster and faster and I was finally able to watch a few games per streaming.
Sometimes those streams were very very bad. There were delays, sudden connection errors or the quality of the streams were so bad you can‘t really see anything. I still remember the Playoffs 2001. At work, I would call my Mum and asked her, if she could take a look at the CNN Teletext and tell me the results of the night. During the finals I was camping with my girlfriend. We had a TV there and highlights were shown in German TV a day after the game. I tried my best not to see any result beforehand (which wasn’t that complicated), but after game 7 my buddy sends me a text „I think they won it!“ I stormed out of the tent screaming in joy.