He did it. Nico Sturm is only the fifth German to triumph in the NHL. He only switched to the new champion a quarter of a year ago. The fact that he was at the bottom of the NHL makes even hardened professionals emotional.

In the last few seconds, Nico Sturm sent “a prayer or two upwards”, after that there was no stopping the German professional of the new NHL champion. This was followed by hugs, shouts of joy, boundless cheering and the moment of pleasure with the almost 20 kilogram heavy and 90 centimeter tall Stanley Cup in the raised arms on the ice of the beaten and dethroned opponent.

“It’s the hardest thing you can do in your professional life as an ice hockey professional,” said the 27-year-old from Augsburg on Sky after the Colorado Avalanche’s 16th and most important win in the playoffs. “People imagined that it would be an explosion of emotions, but it just feels unrealistic at the moment. It will take a few days,” he said.

Rising from the Ruins

Colorado won 2-1 on Monday night at Tampa Bay Lightning, after all the NHL winner of the past two years. With the victory at the rival, the Avs managed the decisive fourth success in the final series in the sixth meeting. “The worst NHL team five years ago completed its journey to the top of the hockey world Sunday night,” wrote the Denver Post. At the end of the 2016–17 season, Colorado was ranked 30th and last in the NHL. The record is devastating: 56 defeats in 82 games.

“It was like watching a video game,” said Erik Johnson now at the sporting peak. At 34, he is one of the older Colorado players. He has been playing for Avalanche since 2011 and almost wanted to end his career last year. Captain Gabriel Landeskog was the first to pass the trophy on to him after the triumph for the triumphant, emotional lap of honor. “She’s heavier than I thought,” commented Johnson.

The big street parade is still to come

“You don’t want to be the one to drop it,” Storm commented with a laugh. For him it was a Stanley Cup win in no time. He only moved from Minnesota to Denver in mid-March – with only one goal: “I want to help the team in Colorado win the Stanley Cup. I’ll think about everything else after the season.”

There won’t be much time to think, the party started with the final siren in Tampa and won’t be over any time soon. Helmets flew high in the air, racquets swept across the ice, players hugged the boards in a huge cheering cluster. “The best thing is that you can share such moments with the family, my brother and my girlfriend are here. I just want to say ‘thank you’, also to my parents at home,” emphasized Sturm, who was only the fifth German in the strongest ice hockey league in the world won the title. Before him, only Uwe Krupp, Dennis Seidenberg, Tom Kühnhackl and Philipp Grubauer had succeeded.

National coach Toni Söderholm was correspondingly pleased and congratulated via social networks “a fine person and athlete who has earned everything through hard, uncompromising work. Enjoy the Stanley Cup dear @nicosturm7, the holy grail in ice hockey”. There are a lot of good players, including German players, who didn’t get this chance, said Sturm himself. “You have to be lucky to play yourself into a position like that.”

The Avalanche, which is to be celebrated with a big parade in Denver on Thursday, retained its 100 percent yield thanks to the success. Every time the team made it to the decisive series for the title, it ended up winning the championship: 1996, 2001 and 2022.