April ‘BoniBlog – Hockey Talk In The Antalya Heat

By John Iaboni, Sports Media Canada Special Correspondent

On the eve of the official opening of the 73rd AIPS Congress here in Antalya one would assume that ice hockey might be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.
Enter Anton Waldmann.

Anton Waldmann

He is a knowledgeable bon vivant, always smiling, forever spinning a good story, known to what seems to be the universe and totally passionate about hockey.
He is a German with a Canadian mentality for hockey. How did he react when I put that to him? Well, let’s just say he took it as a real compliment, humbly honoured this Canuck would anoint him as such.
“Yes, thank you … thank you very much,” he said.
He is 66 years old and hails from the Bavarian town of Fussen in southern Germany, some five kilometers from the Austrian border. He was a soccer player and ski jumper before he suffered a concussion in the latter sport.
“My mother said no more ski jumping and finally I ended up as a hockey player,” he said. That was more than okay for Waldmann who had played hockey on frozen ponds since the age of six. Fussen is surrounded by lakes and mountains. It is also famous for the Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty/DisneyLand/DisneyWorld Castles.
To show how up to speed Waldmann is on such history, he says the “Disney Castle” in Fussen attracts some five million visitors annually “40 per cent from North America, 40 per cent from Asia.”
Look, who am I to argue with one who happens to be the treasurer for the German AIPS National Association as well as the treasurer for the AIPS Hockey Commission? Waldmann advanced in hockey as a player and eventually became a coach. Throughout that final phase, he dabbled in journalism and eventually went into that field full time by forming AWA Press, based in Fussen.
He is in Antalya as Germany’s delegate at this AIPS Congress and naturally he sought out all the latest news around the NHL. He’s been at the Winter Olympics since 1992, serving as a broadcaster and journalist. Most recently, he was in Vancouver, doing his job while holding court throughout from the numerous members of the media who’ve crossed paths with him and been won over by his enthusiasm.
His days in coaching brought his travels throughout the world, even attending coaching clinics with NHL coaches at Toronto’s York University. He’s scouted every league one can imagine and he’s gotten to know coaches from around the world with one of them, George Kingston (who’s coached in the NHL and in Europe) a close friend since 1975.
Aside from his native language, Waldmann also has a working level in several languages including English, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
“That’s always helpful because they enjoy it when you speak in their own languages,” he said.
Waldmann speaks with pride of his role in helping establish the AIPS Hockey Awards about a dozen years ago. Among those who were so honoured with wood carving of a hockey player was Sports Media Canada co-founder George Gross.
“George was very happy to receive that,” Waldmann said.
The Baron sure did love ice hockey as does this guy Waldmann. I’m sure between now and the end of this Congress – despite the heat – we’ll still have plenty of hockey to discuss. What else can one expect when Waldmann says the first thing he does every morning when he checks into his office back in Fussen is check out the NHL news and scores?

NOTE: This week John Iaboni is in Antalya, the popular Turkish seacoast resort, as Sports Media Canada’s delegate to the annual AIPS Congress meeting delegates from among the large gathering of national sports journalists’ associations attending the conference.