Glen Metropolit figures he weighed about 190 pounds last season, soaking wet, when he played for the
Today, currently the leading scorer in Switzerland's National League A as a centreman for EV Zug, he
guesses he tips the scales at about 215.
The weight gain would be 25 pounds of corporate logos he wears from his helmet to his shins.
"I'd say I could name you about seven," Metropolit said brightly yesterday from his lakefront condo in
Zug, a postcard-pretty town of roughly 25,000 where he's scored four goals and added two assists only two
games into his post-NHL career.
So Metro rattled off a throat lozenge, a bank and a luxury carmaker, stopping four sponsors short of his
seven. He'd still have had about a dozen beyond that to complete the inventory that makes him look like a
stock car on skates.
The logo list would include fast food, electronics, petroleum, energy management, Switzerland's national
post office, a casino, a spice company, an appliance manufacturer, furniture maker, transportation service
and, on the shaft of his stick, a company that packages fresh fruit nationwide, often sending a box of apples
and bananas into the EV Zug dressing room.
No matter the kaleidoscopic jersey, Metropolit is having a blast in Switzerland on his 16th professional
team, having signed on for two years.
He's earning probably half the face value of last season's $1-million Canadiens salary, but consider: not
a euro of his pay is going into escrow, two of his three children are enrolled without cost in a prestigious
English-language international school, he and his wife, Michlyn, are driving new BMWs provided for free,
parking them in the driveway of a comfortable rent-free condo, and he pays no taxes.
"What a decision I made, coming here. I'm glad I didn't stick around in North America and wait,"
Metropolit said. "It's the best choice I've probably made in my life.
"It's caught me by surprise, what guys are signing for over there," he added, watching from afar as the
NHL's dwindling pool of free agents agrees to salary-cap-squeezed contracts.
There is pressure to win in the 12-team Swiss league, Metropolit says. In order, it's the coach, the
imports and finally the nationals who will take the heat if a team under-performs.
But stress is relative, the 36-year-old veteran says.
"Stress is playing four or five minutes a night -and having to do something before the trade deadline,"
Metropolit said without bitterness of his late-season days in Montreal.
Not figuring in the Canadiens plans for 2010-11, he briefly contemplated NHL free agency before deciding
upon a return to Europe. Metropolit had played 97 games with Finland's Jokerit Helsinki from 2003-05, then
was MVP and league champion with Switzerland's Lugano in 2005-06, scoring 24 goals and adding 39 assists in
With EV Zug, Metropolit is skating for Canadian coach Doug Shedden, whom he had gotten to know in the
NHL's minor leagues and professional roller-hockey, and with teammates Josh Holden, a former fellow Team
Canada forward, and one-time Canadien Paul DiPietro.
Already, Metro is wearing the hues of his success in jersey 50, a number he adopted as a gag decades ago
in Toronto ball hockey and has stuck with in Europe.
A team's leading scorer in the Swiss League pulls on a distinctively logo'd sweater and a gold helmet
that's painted with a motif of fire, a charity initiative of a sponsor; he wears it until someone else takes
the scoring lead, not unlike the yellow jersey in cycling's Tour de France.
"It's a target," Metropolit said, laughing. "Believe me, that helmet -the flame bucket -makes you stand
out. But you have fun with it, even if you just shake your head at some of the things they do in Europe."
Teammates already are kidding Metro that he's on pace for 100 goals this 50-game season.
"Sure, whatever," he said, chuckling. "Right now, it's all about winning. I'd like to win another
championship and I think we have the group here to do it. I'm just going to have fun, and if I play, I can
make things happen."
The longest road trip is a three-hour bus ride to Geneva.
"You're not worried about turbulence," Metro jokes. "Instead, you're looking out the windows over the
mountains. I'm home every night and I get to bring the kids to school every day."
The media attention is, well, somewhat less than it was in Montreal. The few reporters wait for the
players post-game outside the dressing room, not venturing inside.
There's been little culture shock, with a superb local mall featuring the requisite McDonald's and a
Starbucks, and just a few inconveniences -there's a waiting period to get a cellphone; the NHL and most
English programming is an unknown to Swiss television; and every word on the family's oven is in German.
"We're Googling them to find the English," Metro said, admitting that some meals haven't quite worked out.
"But even that's been fun."
Children Alivia, 8, Max, 6, and Esther, 4, are treating this as a grand adventure. They're seeing much
more of their father than they did in Montreal, the final stop on his seven-team, eight-season NHL
Even as Metropolit looks forward, he casts a fond eye back at his time in this city, especially to the
fans who loved him for his blue-collar game and a work ethic that was beyond reproach.
"Please tell the fans I wish I were still part of it," he said. "I'll miss them, and I hope they take it
easy on the new guys, show them a little patience."
And then Metropolit laughed once more, considering his nomadic hockey life that has now brought him to the
scoring lead in a funky jersey in a nation where, in just two games, he's a major star.
"Have you ever noticed," he said, "that no matter the country, the stickman in the IKEA instruction manual
holds a wrench as big as his body?"