There are those players who, even though haven’t won a title in Switzerland, have been able to make their mark. Players who, even after years, are still in the fans’ hearts.
The player we talk about today is a player who’s been loved in Fribourg and probably “hated” – sportingly… – in the rest of the country. An exceptional and feared player. A real leader on ice and a tough guy.
Yep, you got it right, we’re talking about Shawn Heins!
Our friend “The Last Frontier” made a video about the former Gottéron’s Captain that we show you without further ado. After that, we’ll talk a little about the career of this rocky Canadian defenseman.
Shawn Heins arrived in Switzerland on the eve of the 2006-07 season when he signed for Basel. After only 15 games played on the shores of the Rhine, however, the rocky defenseman transferred to Fribourg Gottéron and from that moment on a perfect marriage started, a marriage that lasted 7 seasons including more than 4 played as Captain of the team.
Shawn Heins is a star and a legend on the shores of the Sarine, where he played until the end of his career. As “The Last Frontier” recalled us, Shawn is the import player who collected the highest number of appearances with the Dragons, 356. More than the “magical duo” Bykov – Khomutov.
It’s also fair to say at this point though, that Shawn Heins holds another record in Fribourg. In fact, he’s been assessed 852 penalty minutes over the years, and that makes him the most penalized player in the club’s history.
The latter record isn’t probably something to be proud of. Because let us not beat around the bush, Shawn Heins was certainly no angel… and surely left some bruises, and even more that that, to other players who played in Switzerland.
But it’s also fair to say that Shawn was a fantastic defenseman! A tough defenseman, who liked physical play but also capable of being effective in the offensive zone.
THE DEBUT IN SWITZERLAND
Shawn Heins made his debut in Switzerland with Basel on September 15th, 2006, when the Rhenish faced Davos on the road and suffered a 2-1 defeat. Shawn’s first game at the Patinoire de St. Léonard on the other hand was on October 28th, 2006… when he was still a player of Basel. On that occasion Fribourg Gottéron earned a 4-1 win thanks to the goals scored by Josh Holden, Peter Sarno and Caryl Neuenschwander (2). Shwan made himself remarked though… he was assessed 2 minutes of penalty but most and above all had a secondary assist on the occasion of the consolation goal scored by the visitors with Thomas Nüssli.
DEBUT IN FRIBOUT AND FIRST ASSIST
Two weeks later, and more precisely on November 14th, 2006, Shawn Heins made then his debut with the Dragons! On that occasion the troops back then coached by Serge Pelletier hosted Rapperswil and suffered a 5-2 defeat… Peter Sarno and Josh Holden scored the two goals for the hosts, and Shawn had an assist.
THE FIRST GOAL AS A DRAGON
It took him no long to score the first goal with the new club though. Four days after his debut against Rappi in fact, Shawn Heins played his second game with the Dragons in Zürich. Also in that case Gottéron lost the game (4-3 shootout defeat) but Shawn Heins scored the first goal of that night.
That was the first one of 51 goals scored and many assists. Right, because Shawn Heins with Fribourg Gottéron tallied a total of 187 points in 355 National League appearances. Without forgetting the impressive charisma he brought in during each single shift.
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It was not a surprise to see him perform well, after all. Shawn Hein in fact, collected 127 NHL appearances in his career (16 points), with the jerseys of San José Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Trasher between 1998 and 2003-04.
Without forgetting that he collected also 170 AHL appearances (119 points), where by the way played also alongside other players that are well known in Switzeland. Among them, we name Chris Armstrong (former Zug), Éric Landry (former Lausanne, Bern and Ambrì-Piotta) and Tommi Santala (former Kloten).
Back in 2004 then, Shawn crossed the ocean and never came back to NA as a player. He played his first two seasons in Europe in the DEL… firstly with the Eisbären of Berlin and then with the Hannover Scorpions, where among other things he played alongside the former Lugano Marty Murray.
After the two seasons in Germany finally, he moved to Switzerland. Where he stayed until the end of the 2012-13 season before hanging up his skates.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to win a title in Fribourg. Even though he came so close in the 2012-13 season… when Gottéron made it all the way to the final lost against Bern. That was a bitter final for the whole club but also for Shawn Heins, who got injured during Game-3 at the Patinoire St. Léonard and could’t play the rest of the series. And who knows, perhaps Shawn’s injury was one of the reasons why the Dragons weren’t able also in that case and for the umtpeenth time to win the title.
To conclude therefore, Shawn Heins played his last game with Fribourg Gottéron on April 9th, 2013, when the Dragons earned a 1-0 win against Bern thanks to the goal scored by Julien Sprunger. During that last game, Shawn Heins didn’t score points but was assessed a 2 minutes minor penalty.
That was a bitter conclusion for this player who certainly made his mark in Switzerland and certainly earned the respect and the love of the fans of Gottéron.
Love him or hate him… this is Shawn Heins!