Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Devils return to the Max

The wait is over... The Kazakhstanian National Anthem will be ringing throughout the pine rafters of the Cardiff Bay Arena again this season... Max Birbraer is set to return to South Wales!
The 26 year old Israeli International had a career season with the Devils in 2006/07 recording 29 goals and 68 total points in 64 games and is set to take his game even higher in 2007/08. Player/Coach Gerad Adams has been on a roller coaster ride since the Playoffs ended negotiating the return of the Devil’s prolific winger.

“Max always indicated that he wanted to return to Cardiff and I know that he really enjoyed the city and the Devils’ fans and friends that he met last season. He wanted to be comfortable and settled and felt in his heart that Cardiff was the right place to be” says Player/Coach Adams. “I have always kept Max in mind when building this team.”

Admittedly, Maxim Birbraer has had one of the most interesting hockey journeys of any hockey player. Being Kazakhstanian born and a member of the Israeli National Ice Hockey team is not a commonly found player profile in your match night programme. Neither is the fact that Birbraer skipped Major Junior ‘A’ and the ECHL on his way to three seasons in the American League with the Albany Riverats direct from the Newmarket Hurricanes of the Ontario Tier II Junior ‘A’ League.

The New Jersey Devils 3rd round choice in the 2000 NHL Entry draft had the option of playing on the continent in Germany and Switzerland this season before eventually deciding to return to Wales. Like many impact players the perception that European pastures are always greener appears to have been outweighed by the comforts of Cardiff life. The likable 6’2, 200 pound winger enjoyed the physical style of play in the British Elite League and displays a versatility seldom seen from top offensive players.

Devils’ GM Brent Pope knows what a unique player Birbraer is and what he brings to the Cardiff team and dressing room.

“Maxy is an extremely talented player that has game breaking ability. He is a proud performer and was a huge part of our success last season. His commitment to return is another indication that we are headed in the right direction. Both Gerad and I felt that Max and Sylvain would strike a good working relationship after playing in San Diego together. They have a mutual respect for one another and we expect them to lead from the front and get us a strong start out of the gates this season.”

The Devils have two remaining import positions to fill and Gerad Adams is currently in talks with a number of players who would combine playing for the Devils alongside University studies at the Cardiff Business School. With still two months to go before the home opener Devils Coach Gerad Adams is pleased with how the new team looks so far. “Things have gone well and I am pleased with Max returning. These last couple pieces of the puzzle will be key signings for us.”

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