When Sven Baertschi was growing up, his idols went by the names of Yashin, Kovalchuk and Datsyuk.
There weren’t any NHL stars from his home country to root for and follow through the highlight shows, so he was a fan of Russian stars.
Now, 12-year-old hockey players in Switzerland have someone to look up to and call one of their own in the best league in the world.
With Baertschi named to the Calgary Flames roster Friday, the 2013 NHL could be one where a Swiss star emerges and is an inspiration for kids in his home country.
“It’s a big opportunity for me to open up that door and show that it’s possible to play in this league as a 20-year-old,” Baertschi said Friday.
“I want to be that guy. We’re such a small country. It’s not like every year there are five more guys coming into the NHL.”
Only 19 Swiss natives have suited up in the NHL, but Baertschi and his five games from last season are already among them.
Among that short list, only six a