Chris Kelly of the Boston Bruins has signed with HC Red Ice Martigny-Verbier-Entremont, or just HC Red Ice for short, which is in the National League B in Switzerland.
He is the first Bruin to sign with a team in National League B, which is the second-tier league in Switzerland, though some teams can earn their way up to National League A by playing well in a relegation/promotion playoff series. However, he’s not the first NHL player to get picked up by Red Ice. Patric Hornqvist of the Nashville Predators is also currently on their roster.
Red Ice is located in a primarily French-speaking part of Switzerland–the team website is in French–which may be ideal for Kelly since he may know some French from growing up in Toronto and playing for Ottawa.
Because Red Ice is in the NLB, that means Kelly will not play games against his Bruins teammates who have found Swiss teams to play for during the NHL lockout, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, since they are with NLA squads.
Red Ice is also a fairly new team, though its foundations go back to 1939. During the Great Recession that gripped Europe just as hard–if not harder in some areas–as America in 2008, HC Martigny (founded in 1939) merged with the upstart HC Verbier-Val de Bagnes because Martigny was going through some tough economic times. Thus, HC Red Ice was born.
Currently in sixth place out of 11 teams in the NLB standings, Red Ice’s most recent game was a 10-3 blowout loss on Oct. 28. Perhaps they could really use Kelly’s goal-scoring abilities–he had 20 goals and 19 assists last season in Boston, plus he shared alternate captaincy with Andrew Ference.
Like the vast majority of European teams, Red Ice will also take a break during the first half of November. No games are scheduled for them between Nov. 4 and 12.