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"I want to give something back"
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Oktober 19, 2003; 16:14
"I want to give something back"
German NHLer Uwe Krupp reflects on his career, reveals future plans
Frank Johne

 
June 1996: Krupp and Avalanche teammate Scott Young with the Cup

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Cologne/Munich, Germany - He is best remembered for his Stanley-Cup-winning goal. At 4:31 of the third overtime period of Game 4 of the 1996 finals, Uwe Krupp fired a low point shot past Florida Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck to lift the Colorado Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup victory. But Krupp not only is the only German-trained player with his name inscribed on Lord Stanley's trophy. The 6’6”, 233 lbs defenseman also was the first German with a storied career in the National Hockey League. After 18 years in the NHL, in which he recorded 69 goals, 212 assist and 660 penalty minutes in 729 games with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Quebec, Colorado, Detroit and Atlanta, permanent injury troubles forced him into retirement after the 2002-03 season. During a recent trip to his hometown Cologne, Krupp reflected on his career and revealed plans for the future in an interview with the media relations department of his former team Kölner Haie.
 

Two-time Stanley-Cup-winner Uwe Krupp
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Q: Injuries forced you into retirement . Do you regret that your career is already over? Or do you look back in joy?
Uwe: To be honest, I would have loved to play one more year, mainly because of my son Björn. He now lives with me and my wife Valerie in Atlanta. It would have been great if he had seen his father as a professional hockey player on and off the ice. My children should understand what this job is all about. I wanted to show them that my standing as a prominent hockey player, being cheered everywhere, getting everything served on a golden platter, did not come out of nowhere. You cannot make your life glamorous just by getting up each morning. I wanted them to see that it takes hard work and the right attitude to reach your goals. I wanted to show them why their daddy succeeded while many others failed. It's a very tough job and you really have to earn your money. Everywhere I went, I had more talented players around me. But you can always find ways too succeed with less talent.

Q: A lot of young prospects dream of a career like yours. Who used to be your idol?
Uwe: Udo Kiessling, my former teammate with the Kölner Haie (who also appeared in one NHL game with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981-82). Udo played a key role in my career. It was he who gave me the advice that if I wanted to make it to the NHL, I should give it an early shot. That's what I did (after being drafted in the 11th round, 223rd overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in 1983). Udo was a terrific professional and that during an era when hockey in Germany was more of a semi-professional sport. Many of my teammates had "regular" jobs. But Udo always gave everything he had. He played with heart and effort... extra push-ups, extra sit-ups in practice - that's what Udowas about. The lessons Udo taught me were very instrumental for my career.

Q: In retrospect, what are your favorite hockey memories?
Uwe: I won two German championship with the Kölner Haie. Then I went to North America where I won the AHL's Calder Cup with Rochester. I particularly remember 1990-91, the season that marked my first selection to the NHL All-Star team during my stint with the Buffalo Sabres. With the New York Islanders, we made it to semi-finals a couple years later. In 1994, I joined the Quebec Nordiques - my first stint with a Canadian NHL team and one of my best seasons. An unforgettable memory is 1996. We won the Stanley Cup with Colorado after my goal in the third overtime. Two years later, the fans voted me to the All-Star team. Being selected by the fans, especially as a German-born player, was a terrific feeling. In 2002, we won the Cup with Detroit. Although I did not play very often, we had a quite impressive team: Hasek, Chelios, Hull, Yzerman, Fedorov or Murphy - a true All-Star line-up. The 1996 Cup victory definitely was one of the highlights of my career. I got back from an injury - maybe even a few months early - and everything went well in the playoffs. People often ask me if that was the most memorable moment of my life. If it was, I'd have to jump from the next bridge. I think you always have to set some new goals in life.

Q: You were repeatedly bothered by injury problems late in your career…
Uwe: Yes, one injury after another. I worked out hard, but games are more intense than practice of course. I felt that I couldn’t get it done anymore. I had surgeries on my knee and my back. It was obvious: My body could not bear this physical load any longer. If I had continued, I might not even be able to coach junior players today.

Q: Speaking of coaching: What are your plans for the future, the next 10 years?
Uwe: Hockey was good to me. I want to give something back, be a coach and teacher for young players and shape them. I don’t know where my wife and I will live years from now, maybe in the vicinity of my son Björn’s college. We want both our sons, Björn and Cedric, to get a good education. We'd love to see them go to university. We want to show them how to lead a sports-oriented and healthy life. The lessons you learn in sports can be helpful in all areas of life, regardless of what job you will end up in, professional athlete, university professor or carpenter. They shall take school seriously and show good effort. When you follow the goal to be better tomorrow than you were today, setbacks are not going to stop you.
Frank Johne

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