As a singer, Uwe Krupp had not yet attracted attention.
In general, the ice hockey coach is one of the more thoughtful representatives of his profession, at least on the Kölner Haie game days.
But on Saturday evening another Uwe Krupp was to be seen, when he happily sang local music from Cologne with the audience afterwards.
His sharks had won 4:2 against the title candidate Adler Mannheim and climbed to sixth place in the German Ice Hockey League (DEL).
It was a concentrated performance, "even if everything around it was a circus," said Krupp with a smile about the game in Cologne's football stadium in front of more than 40,000 fans.
And when fireworks lit up the sky at the end, the fifth "DEL Winter Game" was finally a "very well-rounded evening", as DEL Managing Director Gernot Tripcke stated with satisfaction.
Especially since the open-air game is always a mixture of shop window and class reunion.
Representatives of all DEL clubs and the top European leagues were there, as were the executive committee of the German Ice Hockey Federation and even the president of the world association, Luc Tardif.
Based on the NHL's "Winter Classic".
The event has been held in Germany since 2013.
Based on the "Winter Classic" of the North American NHL, every two years an ice rink is laid in a football stadium and all kinds of programs are offered around it.
This should remind of the time on frozen lakes.
Which is nonsense insofar as the NHL played exclusively indoors more than 100 years ago, and the DEL, founded in 1994, even more so, but every sport can do with a bit of romance.
Actually, the fifth edition was supposed to start in January 2021, the pandemic didn't allow that, the game even had to be postponed again.
It worked on the third try.
What was also true for the people of Cologne: They lost their first two open-air games in 2015 and 2019, also against Düsseldorf.
Finally a win, which was decisive for the mood despite the party around it: "I've seen it twice without a win, watching the fireworks as a loser isn't fun," said Captain Moritz Müller, who now seemed all the happier: "That was it Advertising for our sport: the quality of the game, the implementation of the event.” Philipp Walter sounded similar: “We're really happy, there's a lot going on.
It's an event that needs months and years of preparation," said the Haie Managing Director.
Previously, there had been criticism of the Winter Game this time.
Does an event like this fit in with times when people are being called on to save energy?
Especially since the ice surface was not dismantled again immediately, it even stays there until the beginning of January.
Because the Haie are only tenants in their actual hall and so many shows that were canceled due to Corona are now being made up there that there are hardly any dates for ice hockey.
So they also play against Bremerhaven (December 22nd) and Augsburg (January 8th) in the FC stadium.
Now the cooling system is not connected to the Cologne network, it is operated with diesel generators, but symbols are also involved.
Haie Managing Director Walter knows this, and he too saw a symbol in the "Winter Game", but a positive one: the Haie wanted to "be an encouragement in society", they wanted to give "people in a crisis phase a good time".
What worked with a view of the grandstands was sung and swayed.
In addition, the ice in the stadium will experience more than three professional games.
The women's and youth teams will play there, schools will die, there have long been fully booked public periods, company events.
The question remains as to how the “Winter Game” will continue in times of tight budgets.
There are still no applications for the 2024/25 season, said league boss Tripcke.
It's just a "risky business for the clubs", 30,000 to 40,000 spectators are needed for refinancing.
Which also means: It will continue to take place in stadiums "because the infrastructure is there," said Tripcke.
Building a temporary stadium in special places like in front of the Brandenburg Gate is a size too big for the DEL.
"We're happy when someone applies."