Grizzlies goal: “we want to be back in the top 6”

Grizzlies goal: 'we want to be back in the top 6'

The runner-up is hot for the new challenge. When the Grizzlies Wolfsburg start their eleventh season in the German Ice Hockey League on Friday at newcomer Bremerhaven, they have already won the first tough battles behind the scenes. After the reduction of the budget of main sponsor VW, it was necessary to plug a mid-six-figure financial gap. This has obviously worked out well.

"We are leaders of the middle class," says Detlef Wittig, looking at the budget. The former VW top manager is the Grizzlies' supervisory board boss. With the outbreak of the VW emissions scandal a year ago, the air also became thinner for them. According to reports, VW has reduced the group's commitment by 500,000 euros compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, with an estimated total budget of 7.2 million euros, the Grizzlies managed to rank seventh in the budget table behind the top clubs Munich, Cologne, Mannheim, Berlin, Ingolstadt and Nuremberg, which are beyond or just below the 10-million mark – with a large deficit.

"We have a budget at the same level as previous years," ares Wittig. "We have a basis on which to work," also attests manager Charly Fliegauf. 18 players of the old squad remained, so far six new arrivals came. The most prominent are U.S. defenseman Jeremy Dehner from Munich and Canada import Kris Foucault (last Zurich) and national player Alexander Weib from Cologne in the offense. A foreign top center is still to come. But the cost-cutting measures are also making themselves felt in the squad. The was reduced. The club refrained from signing a tenth foreigner at the start of the season.

That the Grizzlies did not lose even more substance is also thanks to the city of Wolfsburg and its sports-loving mayor Klaus Mohrs, who is not only a member of the supervisory board of the VfL soccer team but also of the DEL club. "Our great thanks go to the city," emphasizes Wittig. The municipality as owner of the venue ice arena waived in favor of the Grizzlys on bar rights and lowered the hall rent. The Grizzlies' financial advantage is likely to amount to several hundred thousand euros and help largely compensate for the cancelled VW money.

But this is by no means the end of the story for the Grizzlies. Finance chief Bernd Rumpel, whose main job is at VW, confirmed back in May that the new four-year plan with VW calls for further reductions each year. Always in the six-figure range, it is said from well-informed circles. At least: The number of season tickets increased. "Up ten percent to 1200. This is a record for us," says Fliegauf.

Here's how the Grizzlies are heading into a DEL season in which they are once again doomed to success. Since 2009, they are the only DEL team to have always made the play-offs – and they are aiming for them again. "We want to be in the top 6 again," the runners-up demand. Prere is not a foreign word for them.

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