Former Prince Albert Raider Leon Draisaitl is making headlines after inking an eight year, $68 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers.
People in Raiders nation are proud of the “Deutschland Dangler” for his big league success, including colour commentator Martin Ring.
“We had a pretty good idea that Leon was certainly something special,” he said.
While Ring analyzed Draisaitl’s actions on the ice over two seasons from 2012 to 2014, the announcer also has a personal connection to the 21-year-old superstar.
The German power forward stayed at Ring’s mother’s home during his Prince Albert years.
“He spent a lot of time around the house. He was certainly one that didn’t shy away from sitting down with ourselves as family when we would come over,” Ring said.
He noted his mother has hosted many Raiders over the years, including one of Draisaitl’s idols.
Mike Modano, who retired as the all-time leading American scorer in the NHL in 2011, lived with the Rings when he played for the Raiders between 1986 and 1989.
He returned to their home in 2013, while Draisaitl was living there, when his jersey was retired by the team.
“That was a pretty special evening to see a young Leon Draisaitl meeting one of his NHL idols. That probably sticks in my mind the most,” Ring said.
He added there are similarities between the two players.
“It’s one of the traits that you pick up on with players of that caliber: They’re not pointing the finger at teammates or anybody else. They’re pointing the finger at themselves if they’ve had a bad game,” Ring said.
Despite anchoring the second line for the Oilers and inking a big deal, Draisaitl is remembering who has helped him along the way.
Ring said the centreman regularly calls his mother in Prince Albert.
“There’s been a number of times where Leon’s just picked up the phone and just wanted to talk to her,” Ring said.
As for making $8.5 million per year as of 2018-19, the commentator said Draisaitl can handle it.
“He has a good head.”
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Celine Grimard.