We were told the team was going bankrupt but we had also heard that part of the problem was that the team was in insolvency at the end of the previous season. We have yet to determine exactly what happened because, to be honest, the ownership and management of the team were so dishonest all along that it's difficult to believe anything they say or anything that had been printed in the press at that time. And the problems within this team go much deeper than bankruptcy or insolvency. Ownership and management had been battling with the DEL all summer, in the press and behind the scenes. I think it was the team's lawyer who called a member of the DEL a 'baboon' - not the smartest move when you are asking the DEL to look the other way on a few things, right?
I wish I would have had it together enough to have been blogging on a daily basis while we were still in Germany because the things we experienced would have blown your mind, even more so than the things we experienced in Italy. (Three cheers for European hockey!)
The boys were on a 10-day road trip to Slovakia and Austria as news that we had lost the first court decision broke. Understandably, many of the players refused to play in that days game. If we had lost the first court decision, but there was still a second court decision to be made, what did that mean? Are the players insured if they play? Will they be getting paid for the entire month that they were in camp and preseason? Well, while management gave interviews to newspapers that the boys WANTED to play that game, because they were so dedicated and hopeful that the team would pull through this. The truth is that they were forced to play. They were told that if they chose not to play, they would not be paid for their time in Germany (paychecks there are hefty) and would be in violation of their contracts (contracts that, by the way, were never approved by the DEL - hello, did no one think we'd have our own legal grounds to sue on this one?). They played.
When I had first heard of the legal troubles surrounding this team, I thought the attorney they retained was a genius. It seemed that he pulled rabbits from his hat on a daily basis. After we lost the first court decision, I tried to maintain faith in him as best I could. He said he was '80% confident' that we would win the second court decision. Well we lost. I'm now convinced that he's a complete moron.
A week or so later, the ownership and management of teams from the second division met to discuss whether or not we could move to the second division. The only person that might rival the main attorney's idiocy is the attorney responsible for our insolvency proceedings. Supposedly, the heads of the bundasliga teams asked whether or not we would be 'ready' to play in the second division by the time their season started (a week from the meeting) and he said 'no'. Excuse me?!?!?! You can guess how that vote went down: 'No bundasliga for you, thanks for coming out'.
After that, every day something else seemed to go wrong. They told us we would no longer be paid. They told us that we would need to pay our own rent and utilities for the month that we had just spent there during camp and preseason. They told us that we no longer had health insurance (nightmares from Italy came racing back to me). They took our cars. They refused to fly us home. They took furniture. We were on our own, just like that.
Note: For anyone reading this blog who is just starting out on their own 'hockey adventure' or is thinking that this life is ultra glamorous, I'll give it to ya straight: don't be fooled, it's a business and no one cares about you.
They wiped their hands clean of us and that was that. We have retained an attorney that is helping us attain the money they owe us ... we'll be waiting with bated breath. Right.
So to bring you up to speed: we are back in the U S of A and getting settled into our new digs. We aren't where we want to be but we are committed to making the best of this extremely lame situation.
I wouldn't change a thing and I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience Germany. It is unfortunate that European hockey goes this way more often than not, but it is in no way a reflection on Germans or Germany itself. I know my husband feels the same way - for him this was the opportunity of a lifetime and more than anything, he would like to be right back where he was. We talk about it almost daily.
Next up: How to make the best of an extremely lame situation ... while your partner struggles to do so.