Even though his club lost, Raeto Raffainer still considers himself “lucky” to have played a championship series against Joe Thornton.
The season was 2004-05, the winter the NHL went dark — but Thornton could not.
Unwilling to stay off the ice, the future Hall of Famer flew to Davos, Switzerland, where he fell in love with Alps; met his bride, Tabea Pfendsack; and led Davos to the Swiss national title, defeating Raffainer’s Zurich Lions in the final. There are worse ways to spend a lockout.
Flash forward 16 seasons, and Raffainer marvels that he is now playing an early role in prepping Thornton, 41, for a crack at another hockey crown. The biggie.
Landing the general manager gig for HC Davos, the 38-year-old Raffainer first met Thornton in the summer of 2019. The Thorntons routinely spend the NHL off-season in Switzerland. Raffainer handed Joe the keys to the facilities so he could come and go, skate and work out, as he pleases. Jagr style.
“He’s part of the family of this organization,” Raffainer explains. “For me, it's a matter of respect.”