By Rob Miech
Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS – The rabbit wasn’t so bad. No way would he try horse. Just a whiff of the duck liver made Chris Neiszner wince in France.
“That’s a big thing during Christmas there,” he said. “That didn’t go over so well. That was the worst. I smelled it. That’s as far as I could go.”
Neiszner, 24, got a taste of foreign hockey last season in Ligue Magnus, the top hockey league in France, for Morzine-Avoriaz.
Tucked in the French alps in Morzine, not far from Geneva, Neiszner accepted challenges from teammates who dared him to eat unusual meats and ski black-diamond runs at resorts.
He tried the rabbit and tried to keep up with fellow Pingouins as they zipped down those steep slopes.
But Morzine only played once, sometimes twice, a week. Down time was frequent. The language wasn’t a problem, since English is so universal. The team even flew Neiszner’s longtime girlfriend in for a long visit.
Still, he longed for Las Vegas.
That’s why the 5-foot-11, 195-pound center will be wearing his familiar No. 22 Wranglers uniform tonight when Las Vegas opens its sixth season in Alaska against the Aces.
He played for Las Vegas for two seasons before testing the French ice.
“It was a great experience,” Neiszner said. “I enjoyed every part of it. But I’m really excited and happy to be back, to be around these guys and the organization.
“I did a lot of thinking there around Christmastime. I wanted to know the people behind the scenes, the teams and the system. To me, it was a no-brainer to come back here.”