His flight from Toronto to Ottawa was canceled, requiring an unanticipated stay in a Toronto hotel before finally arriving at the Ottawa airport on Wednesday, a day and a half after leaving his home country of Germany.
“The travel was long! I still feel tired, but I’m really happy to be here. I was really scared at customs controls,” said Capitals 2021 fifth round draft pick, Haakon Hanelt. It turns out the couple in front of him at customs was returned to Germany for improper paperwork.
“The main reason for coming to Canada is to learn to play on the smaller rinks. My goal is to play in the NHL. I will have a better chance of getting there by continuing my development by playing Canadian junior hockey,” said Hanelt.
“There were a few clubs that had shown an interest in attracting me to the country, but I felt Gatineau was probably the best place for me. I’m happy to be here and I hope we can win a championship.” Hanelt also speaks French, after having studied the language at school for six years.
The German did not set any immediate goals when he arrived in Gatineau this week.
“I really want to focus on my adaptation to smaller ice surfaces. Last year, playing for the pros, I learned to pay attention to all the little details. I was playing against men. By playing against young people of my age, I will be able to find my offensive side. I like to make plays and pass to my teammates. I don’t care who scores the goals. All I want is for us to have them as a team,” said Hanelt.
Louis Robitaille, the team’s general manger, head coach and former Hershey Bear, discovered a passionate young man who was thirsty to learn.
“He immediately asked to jump on the ice. We feel that he is passionate. He is sociable and talkative. He expresses himself well in English. Stéphane Richer, former Olympique, was his general manager in Berlin. Maxim Lapierre saw him play in LED. He’s a quick-handed guy with a good shot. He enjoys physical play. He was impressive at the five nations tournament this summer.”
Hanelt, 18, made his preseason debut with Gatineau on Friday night, starting at right-wing on the top line.
By Jon Sorensen