While many locked-out NHLers have flocked for top-flight leagues in Sweden, Russia and Switzerland, Washington forward Wojtek Wolski took a different approach — he signed with KH Sanok of the Polish Ice Hockey League.
Wolski was born in Poland and felt this might be his only chance to play in his native country. As such, he joined one of the lower rungs on the global hockey ladder.
Poland is ranked No. 22 in the IIHF Rankings, between Japan and Holland; the Polska Liga Hokejowa is an eight-team circuit that bears a lot of similarities to Canadian junior hockey, right down to the lengthy bus rides.
Here’s more, from IIHF.com:
In some ways it’s been a step back in time for Wolski, whose team transport doesn’t include private jets or five-star accommodations. A former member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion, his current team has more in common with them than with an NHL squad.
“Yes it’s very much similar to OHL when it comes to travel and dressing rooms. We bus 5-6 hours to games and play that night. Not the easiest way to prepare for a game but it has been fine,” he said.
While it might sound tough, playing in the Polish league does have its perks.
“The last game we were in Hungary and I scored in a shootout to win it,” Wolski explained. “The fans got pretty excited and started throwing me chocolate bars.”
(Image courtesy IIHF.com)