Over the summer, Andre Heim worked hard to achieve his dream in the NHL.Image: Cornerstone
After two successful years at Ambre Biota, Andre Heim wants to take the next step. Awarded by St. Louis Blues opportunity to gain a foothold in the NHL.
Heim’s struggle for a place in the Blues squad began last Thursday. The 25-year-old is one of 31 forwards called up for prep camp. Heim says he was a little nervous before his first on-ice training session. He is in a group with defender Justin Faulk, one of the standout players. There are three groups in total.
The fact that Heim hopes to play in the best league in the world came as a surprise to him. Since he was never drafted, the NHL was no longer a big deal for him. Instead, he focused on becoming a captain in the National League. He succeeded. Last season, he achieved Embry Biotta’s average playing time among all Swiss players (17:30 minutes) and wore the letter “A” on his chest.
Switch to Ambri as a stroke of luck
Heim came to ice hockey through his sister Sandra, who now plays for the ZSC Lions. He grew up in Wilderswil, and started his career at SC Unterseen-Interlaken. In 2011, he moved to FC Bern, where he made his debut in the Swiss Super League on 9 September 2017 at the age of 19. However, he did not get the trust he wanted from SCB, which is why he moved to Leventina in 2021.
“I’d actually rather be on the safe side.”
The move was a stroke of luck for Heim. He was able to develop optimally in a less active environment. “There’s less pressure from the fans,” Heim says. “When they see that everything is being given to the club, they feel satisfied.” Embry also appealed to him because he had to leave his comfort zone. “For outsiders, it is just canton Ticino, but it is not like German-speaking Switzerland. In addition, it is no longer possible to go home on a day off.
“They said there was a change in the team and that it was possible for me to lead the third or fourth block as a center.”
When asked if he likes to go on adventures, Heim replied, “I actually prefer to be on the safe side.” However, he didn’t have to think twice when he received the offer from the St. Louis Blues, as he spoke to Nico Hischier and Gaetan Haas, among others, who advised him to “do what I want.”
Inversion of the argument
Heim signed a one-season, two-way contract with the Blues; In the AHL, the annual salary will be only $82,500 instead of $855,000. “I don’t want to look back when I’m 35 and ask myself why I didn’t try,” Heim says. “I will continue to grow here as a hockey player and person even if I have to go to the AHL.”
“It’s important to make quick decisions and be strong in the puck game.”
What was also important for him was that “they were honest with me and did not promise me anything. They said that there was a change in the team and that it was possible that I would lead the third or fourth block as a center. In Colorado, for example, I would have thought twice about whether it would make sense to go to There or not.
Andre Heim wears a St. Louis Blues jersey.Image: Cornerstone
However, due to the turmoil, there are more free places than in other organizations, and strong two-way centers like Heim are in demand, especially in the back two lines. He realizes that “every training is important.” “This is really special.” He still has to get used to the smaller ice field. “It’s important to make quick decisions and be strong with the puck. But I think I’ll feel comfortable quickly because I can read the game well.”
Gain upper body strength
Heim also likes the high intensity of the smaller ice rinks and feels well prepared because he has been able to fully train with Ambry. Since he received feedback after the Blues’ development camp at the beginning of July that he could get stronger in the upper body area, he has worked on it. Another focus was on explosiveness, which is not one of his strengths. In the summer of 2022, he paid great attention to the quality of his shots with many additional layers on artificial ice.
As a rookie, moving to North America was not a problem for Heim because he did not want to leave Bern. Now he is ready for the big challenge. He currently lives in a hotel. He loves the area with beautiful gardens. He likes to be alone in nature, which is even more important given the great competition. “I’m used to being bitten. “I’m not someone who gives up easily,” Heim says. He will definitely need perseverance. (Abu/Sda)
All Swiss drafted into the NHL
Debut of two Swiss players in the NHL (regular season as of: 2022/23)
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