For a few years now, Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett has been thinking of life after hockey.
The thoughts ramped up due to COVID-19 and when he wasn’t offered a new contract with SC Bern of Switzerland’s top pro league, a team he helped win three Swiss championships during his five seasons there, after the 2019-20 season.
He did sign a contract with EHC Red Bull Munich in the DEL, Germany’s top league, and finished his playing career appearing in 16 games, scoring twice.
Ebbett, 38, returned to Bern where he lives with his girlfriend Gabriela, a native Swiss woman who grew up in Burns Lake, in B.C.’s central region, and received a phone call from SC Bern’s sports office, asking him for a meeting.
The club offered Ebbett the chance to move into the front office, naming him the team’s new general manager.
“It’s really exciting to be back with Bern in this new role,” said Ebbett from Bern, the Swiss capital. “I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but being a GM was something that I had talked about with my family as a goal.
“To see it happen so quickly is still syncing in, but I am really excited about the opportunity.”
Ebbett was the first-ever player signed by the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and played in the team’s debut season, 2001-02. He led the team in scoring with 45 goals and 84 points and was named the team’s most valuable player.
He parlayed that season into four years of NCAA Div. 1 hockey with the Michigan Wolverines. Ebbett played 224 NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins before heading to Europe.
While overseas, Ebbett represented Canada twice at the Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland over the Christmas holidays, winning gold in back-to-back years, 2016 and 2017. He was named to the all-star team in each tournament.
Ebbett then helped Canada win the bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics in Korea.
In his new role, Ebbett plans to be himself.
“I don’t think I’ll try to emulate anyone,” he said. “I want to have really strong communication lines within the entire organization and get everyone on the same page with the same passion for Bern hockey.”
That passion, said Ebbett, has been missing the last couple of years, and he wants to return the club to the glory of that trio of championship teams he played on. Team, he said, that had passion, energy and fighting spirit.
The team has had consecutive ninth-place finishes.
“My goal here is to get SC Bern back to the top of the league in a few years,” said Ebbett. “We have lost a lot of depth so my goal is to really develop our young players on the roster and on our junior team. We can’t spend like we used to due to the tough economic times during COVID so we need to rebuild from within.”
When not working on his new job, Ebbett and Gabriela do a lot of hiking and biking in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter as the Swiss Alps are 45 minutes away.
“I’ve been in Bern now since 2015 and I really love it here. The city is beautiful,” he said.