By –IIHF Worlds 2017
Cristobal Huet officially announced he will retire from international competitions after the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Cristobal Huet started to play for the French national team in the 1996/97. The emblematic French goalkeeper then took part to 12 World Championships and two Olympic Games with France. Currently playing in the NLA in Switzerland with Lausanne, Huet is the only French player to have won the prestigious Stanley Cup (2010, Chicago Blackhawks). We met the French hockey legend.
Since you arrived in the French national team, what has changed the most according to you?
Many things have changed since 1996. At the time, we already had talented players such as Philippe Bozon, Christian Pouget, Fabrice Lhenry, Denis Perez, Antoine Richer, or Stephane Barin, but we had to complete the team with French-Canadian players. Since then important reconstruction work has been made by the French Federation to train more high-level players. We can see it by the emergence of very good players in the NHL such as Stephane Da Costa, Antoine Roussel, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Yohann Auvitu. The competition is increasing and the coach has choices to make, and this is a very positive evolution. The hard work done by Dave Henderson and his staff, as well as the emergence of leaders such as Laurent Meunier allowed the team to progress year after year.
You will have played 20 years at the international level. What is the secret for such longevity?
I don’t know. As players, we don’t calculate anything. The seasons pass one after the other, but the pleasure remains. After my NHL years (2002-2010), I was able to involve myself again with the French team, which made me feel good. Every season, we want to come back to defend our country’s colours at the World Championship. Playing for the own country is an exciting challenge to face.
At the beginning of your career, what would you have said if we had told you that you would finish your adventure with the French national team with a World Championship on home ice in Paris?
I wouldn’t have believed it! When I came back to Europe in 2010, I always thought it could be the last year. Playing in May after each season represents sacrifices but it is such a pleasure to wear the French jersey, so I don’t regret anything. The group lives very well together and the team is more and more performant. Thus, when Paris’ candidature for the organization of the World Championship got concrete, it convinced all the “old ones” to go on, to be able to live this experience.
Let’s talk about the World Championship to come. What does it represent to you and what can it bring to French ice hockey?
As a hockey player, it is a major event. Organizing the World Championship in France is a great opportunity for the French population to discover our sport, to gather all the passionate, and for the foreign fans to discover Paris. Welcoming the Canadians, the Finnish and the Swiss is amazing. For 10 days, we will focus the attention. Now it’s our turn to make it a successful championship and to show our team values.
Do you have a special message for the French hockey family?
This is THE meeting not to miss. We have a great opportunity to gather ourselves and to show the beauty of our sport to a maximum of people. I am very sure this will be a beautiful hockey celebration, so join us: we are waiting for all of you!
Finally, what can we wish you for your last months on ice hockey rinks?
I first hope to realize good playoffs with Lausanne, and then of course an excellent World Championship with France. It is always better to win games, but in every case, it will for sure be unforgettable. If I can have a happy ending by beautiful national team career, I would be the happiest hockey player on earth.