Manchester Phoenix have pulled off a major coup by signing former NHL defender Robert Schnabel.
The 33-year-old Prague-born hardman stands at 6ft 5in tall and at 238lbs and is sure to add some steel to the Phoenix this term.
Schnabelis a product of the Slavia Prague junior system in the Czech League and played 4 games for the Slavia first team in 1996 before being drafted to the NHL in the 3rd round by the New York Islanders, icing in the Western Hockey League with Red Deer Rebels.
Drafted again in 1998, this time by the Phoenix Coyotes, he played for their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, and spent three years on the blue line with them.
At the end of the 2000-01 season he iced briefly for Timra in the Swedish Elitserien before returning across the Atlantic, signing for the Nashville Predators. He played his minor hockey with the Milwaukee Admirals for 3 years, and was called up to the big show with the Predators no less than 22 times.
Schnabel returned home to Prague to ice for his home team in 2004.
He has also had spells in Finland, Slovakia and most recently in Italy.
Schnabel said: “I didn’t know too much about hockey in England but asked a few friends who have played there and I am looking forward to playing. I am going to bring my best game to Phoenix.
"Work ethic is my strong point and this is very important to me. I have played most of my career as a defensive defender but played a more offensive role in Italy last season.
"I play both roles so we will wait and see what is required. I am really looking forward to coming over, I have heard Phoenix have a passionate band of fans and this is good for me.”
Phoenix boss Tony Hand, who also revealed that netminder Jorge El-Hage had also signed on for another season, said he was delighted to snap up Schnabel.
He added: “Robert will be fantastic over here. His pedigree of 22 NHL games and over 280 in the AHL is first class and speaks for itself. He is big and tough and knows how to handle himself and look after his team mates if the occasion arises.
"He is the full package and I cannot wait for him to come over. I think the Phoenix faithful will love him and opposition fans will enjoy watching him play.”