Sven Baertschi is Eager and Ready For NHL

Sven Baertschi was having the kind of first pro season that any team’s fans can get excited about. Picking up 17 points in 19 games was a very solid debut to the season; then he went flying into the boards. 

Baertschi sat out the entire month of December recovering. He finally returned last weekend for the two-game set against the Rochester Americans. He picked up an assist and two shots on Friday night, as the Heat went down 5-2 despite firing 50 shots at the Americans’ net. Saturday night he looked back to his old self, using his speed to challenge the Amerks’ defencemen. He didn’t pick up any points but he took four shots.

Late in the third, Sven pulled away from the Rocherster defence only to be hauled down. He didn’t score on the subsequent penalty shot, but he showed confidence. Despite being just 20 years old and 20 games into his pro career, Baertschi looks ready to make the parent club.

After Saturday’s game we caught up with Sven and talked about his comeback from injury, World Juniors, Swiss hockey and his hockey memories.

Patrick Johnston: You didn’t score, but that was a nice effort on your shootout attempt…

Sven Baertschi: Ya it was close, really close. I knew that he’s really quick down with his pads – I was trying to pick up some speed and make sure that he was far out and then try to go around him. I was just about around him but he stuck his pad out and just got the puck. It was a good save, there.

PJ: You got a few breaks out there tonight, how did you feel about your game?

SB: It was good, I felt back to normal. Yesterday’s game, it was hard to get used to it again at the start. It’s been a whole month since I’d played a game. But tonight I felt back to normal. I created a lot of chances; you know if your team plays well, you play well. Most of the time.

PJ: You had a good start to the season What was the toughest part of the transition, coming out of junior, even with your taste with the Flames last year?

SB: Definitely less space and more hitting. I think sometimes the passes are not as crisp because there’s a lot of hits out there and there’s a lot of broken plays. When I was playing with Ty Rattie last year – he was just in the World Juniors – it was always tape-to-tape passes…it was a big thing getting used to not having every pass on your tape. I’ve been working hard on that every practice, it’s going well.

PJ: A few of your teammates from Portland were playing in the World Juniors, you mentioned Rattie, but also Seth Jones and others. How was it watching for you?

SB: Congrats to Seth Jones, he had a great tournament. For Canada, it was a little tough for them, but that can happen sometimes. I was really happy with the way Team Switzerland played, I thought it was unreal – they played at the best level and every game was really hard and they competed really well. You look back a couple years ago, when they’d play against Sweden maybe it wasn’t such a close game – or against Canada or USA – but it was great.

PJ: What’s been the key to that success? You said over the past few years, I was going to say ten years, anyway, what do you think is the key to the rise of Swiss hockey?

SB: Tough to say, the development overall got better at home. A lot more guys are jumping into the Elite Leagues (sic), even the B League or the A league. Certain guys come over and they play in the CHL and that’s good for our development too – later on, when they go back, they can play World Juniors, or World Championships, or Olympics, you can pick out the guys that played in North America.

PJ: Do you think thats something that you and Nino [Niederreiter] have on you now, that the two of you have shown a bit of a path, that teams are going to go look for other Swiss players?

SB: Maybe, it started back with Luca Sbisa, he was the first guy. Or Roman Vyk, they were the first guys who jumped into the WHL. Then later it was Nino, and I talked to him a lot during the whole season and he was really excited. I talked to my agent and said “I’ve got to go! I want to play somewhere over there.” It’s a good experience for a young game, go away from your family, don’t know the language. It was a good experience for me personally, it helped a lot overall.

PJ: What’s your best hockey memory?

SB: Just being part of a winning team both seasons in Portland. It was exciting because every time you go out on the ice, you knew you were the better team. 

That kind of thing really excites me. I’m a really competitive guy, and I was fortunate to be on that team. To have twice gone into the finals, even if we didn’t make it. We were really close.

And then the world juniors, and Calgary for one game – then the injury happened – those things are great memories.

PJ: What’s the toughest memory?

SB: Losing game seven against Edmonton there. You go your whole season, hoping to win the cup, one game settles everything, that’s tough to have it go against you two years in a row.

PJ: What the hardest thing you do to prepare for the season?

SB: The whole preparation during the summer. I remember last year, I was going into camp, I’d just been drafted and I didn’t really know exactly what was going on. I wanted to see how it goes. 

Going into this year I’ve worked even harder than I did the year before. I knew this year there’d be a chance to make the team. After I’d played with them [the Flames] last year, playing well and then ending up going home. I wanted to relax at first but then I quickly got back at it. It was almost to my limit sometimes but it really paid off. I started the season and till now I’m fine, it’s just the injury that happened but overall my body is fine. Playing against big guys you’ve got to be prepared, you’ve got to work hard in the summer.

PJ: Was there one thing in particular that you hate doing as part of your preparation?

SB: No, there’s nothing that I really hate to do. With my trainer we do funs things too that are actually still a workout. The whole summer, you just want to get back out there on the ice, you want to be around your team. Being in Switzerland during the summer doesn’t make it easy but on the other side I’m fortunate to have my whole family in Switzerland. I spend a lot of time with them. There’s nothing I really hate about hockey I’d say – the off-season is just another part of that.

PJ: Do your parents get to see you play?

SB: Both of my parents have watched every game so far. To know that they are getting up at 4 in the morning to watch, that’s a great feeling.

Baertschi clearly brings a consistent commitment and passion to the game. Calgary fans will no doubt get to see it if, or rather when, he makes the Flames.

  • MC Hockey

    Nice article, and thanks for some “positivity” for the fans. Anyways, really look forward to seeing Sven on the first-line as the left-winger. In my reply to the Roundtable questions, I predicted Baertschi playing with Tanguay at Centre and Iggy on the RW of course. Why? Because Hartley will see that Sven will energize them, Tangs will set them up, and Iggy will score along with Sven. Let’s see if that happens…could be interesting. And…. I am trade-marking this phrase so you know when he has a big week, you will owe me money (LOL) for singing:
    “It’s the most Sven-derful time of the year” a la the Christmas song.

  • Truculence

    “Definitely less space and more hitting. I think sometimes the passes are not as crisp because there’s a lot of hits out there and there’s a lot of broken plays. When I was playing with Ty Rattie last year – he was just in the World Juniors – it was always tape-to-tape passes…it was a big thing getting used to not having every pass on your tape. I’ve been working hard on that every practice, it’s going well.”

    -Somebody should tell the kid that this “trait” is not universal at this level. He’s probably the only good passer they’ve drafted in the last decade (gauderau and a few recent others, notwithstanding)

    • I was thinking about that exact ‘crisp passing’ issue last night at the Wolves vs Heat game – Chicago made a lot of fantastic tape-to-tape passes. That was a key to why they were so dominant in the third period, they kept the puck because they could make the plays. Puck control’s been a battle all year for the Heat.

  • T&A4Flames

    Really really looking forward to see how Sven & Cerevenka do this year. Really hoping Backlund gets inspired has a great rebound year as well. Neiderreiter seems to have vanished in the the huge deep prospect pool of the Islanders, I wonder what the cost would be for Feaster to try and acquire that kid & see if him & Sven could create a little magic?

    Would also love to see Brodie crack that top 4 d & get paired up with Gio. Butler is an great #5 dman that can play 3-4 pairing minutes if needed.

    Anyone know why in God’s name Feaster is having a press conference with Iggy next week to field media questions on his pending UFA & contract?????

  • ChinookArchYYC

    After yesterday’s depressing posts from BoL and 2 Line Pass, this is a breath of fresh air. Baertschi gives Flames fans something to be excited about. I watched the highlights here, and I’ve never seen Street play before today. Very small sample but he looks like a big body with some decent speed and lots of confidence in his shot. He picked the corner on his first goal. Good stuff.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    “PJ: What’s your best hockey memory?

    SB: Just being part of a winning team both seasons in Portland. It was exciting because every time you go out on the ice, you knew you were the better team.”

    Oh Sven, you poor bastard.

  • T&A4Flames

    Nice article,I’m really looking forward to Sven lighting it up.

    On that note, Ryan Pike, are you going to continue with the weekend set-up for our junior guys. I really like those article and the post weekend ones showing how our kids did.

    Thanks to all you guys for sticking with things and continually giving us great articles to keep the hockeyfix going.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I heard a rumour that it will be in EDM.

      I haven’t heard or seen that the players have finished voting on the CBA, but I assume the schedule will be announced immediately after their vote is official.

      The farther we get from the CBA talk, and the closer we get to actual NHL hockey, the more schoolgirl-ish my giddiness becomes.

      • T&A4Flames

        Elliot Friedman said yesterday, CBC is currently planning for an Edmonton-Vancouver game to finish HNIC on Saturday. I guess we won’t know until the official schedule comes out.