The National Hockey League's sudden shutdown in the middle of the 2019 - 2020 regular season has resulted in all kinds of unexpected things over the last several weeks and months, but this one might top the list. In a recent article from the Associated Press we learned that former first overall pick at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier, has joined the army.
The 21 year old is a native of Switzerland and in that country young men are obligated to perform an 18 weeks of mandatory military service, followed by several three week periods of service over the next several years. Hischier, unsurprisingly, had not yet performed his service in part as a result of the complications imposed on him by his successful career as a professional hockey player, but with the recent shutdown of the NHL it proved to be the perfect opportunity for him to do so. Not only is the timing great for Hischier but, due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, he is now also able to keep in shape in a way that he simply wasn't before.
“One reason I did it was I needed to stay in shape,” said Hischier as per the Associated Press. “I didn’t know where to go because gyms weren’t open and I couldn’t just work out at home. I just didn’t have the tools for a good workout there. For a couple weeks it worked, but I felt like I needed to go somewhere to be prepared when we had to go back and play again. Then the army came and they had a great solution because where I’m working right now, that’s a great building. They have everything there you need.”
The Devils of course are not one of the teams that will be participating in the NHL's 24 team extended playoff format, which means that players like Hischier would otherwise be subject to a very long layoff period. Those who are concerned about the risks of military training need not worry it seems though, as according to Hischier himself the majority of his training thus far has been alongside other professional athletes, who like him are in a special program, including training with members of the Swiss national hockey team.
“We didn’t do much army stuff yet,” admitted Hischier.
Instead he will be attending classes that will include training for emergency medical techniques, things like driving tanks and firing automatic weapons are reserved for the members of Switzerland's professional army.