The top-scoring player on the roster of Switzerland’s best team is perfectly healthy but has no plans of playing for them again.
Logan Couture, locked out by his San Jose Sharks, was excelling for Geneve-Servette this season but is happy to be home.
“The best thing? The food is good. Cheese, chocolate.* The mountains were really cool to drive around,” Couture says of his Swiss adventure. “It’s a nice city.”
In 22 games in Switzerland’s National League A, Couture scored seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points. And even though he left the club a couple weeks ago and has played fewer games than everyone else among the team’s top-10 scorers*, he still leads Servette in scoring. From Ontario.
When we caught up with the 23-year-old centreman after the NHLPA’s charity game in Toronto on Wednesday night, he asserted he will not be returning to the European circuit, even if the NHL season gets axed altogether.
Couture joins a growing list of locked-out NHL talent — Joffrey Lupul, Chris Stewart, Wayne Simmonds, David Clarkson, et al. — whose stints across the Atlantic have been cut short on the players’ own terms, sans injury.
For Couture — a London, Ont., native drafted ninth overall in 2007 by the Sharks — homesickness played a part in his decision. If his Twitter feed is any indication, the forward bided his time devouring season upon season of good television (Dexter, The Office, Walking Dead, and Homeland are just a few that get shoutouts) and getting his heart broken by the Buffalo Bills.
“It got close to Christmastime, and this is an opportunity I don’t usually get — spending Christmas with my family,” he says. “I just felt I was ready to come play back here, and I was hoping there was going to be a resolution quickly, and I missed being home.”
Couture remains hopeful that an NHL season, albeit abbreviated, will be saved and he continues to train like there will be one, rich cheeses and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate be damned.
In Servette, he was living at a hotel just a five-minute drive away from the rink. A fellow NHLer and Servette teammate, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Yannick Weber, stayed at the same hotel. The Swiss-born Weber remains with the team.
“They gave Yannick Weber and I a car. Yannick drove the car around, and I was basically his passenger,” Couture says.
While his NLA stats don’t show it, Couture explains that he was forced to make adjustments to his game to succeed on the European ice, something not all NHLers who made the trek were able to do (see: Kane, Evander).
“The ice size is much different. The style of play is less physical, a little less high-end skill, but they can all skate. It’s a pretty good leap,” Couture says.
Funny, now he must unlearn some of the positioning he picked up in Servette. Even though Wednesday’s NHLPA game was a non-contact affair, Couture says he just narrowly avoided self-inflicted collision.
“I know tonight there were a couple of times I almost ran into the boards because I was used to the bigger ice surface,” he smiles.
*The part of you that loves the reinforcement of stereotypes wants him to say the knives were awesome as well.