NATIONAL LEAGUE HEAD COACHES – PART 2
Coaches… you might call them “psychologists” by now. It’s very complicated to be a coach nowadays more than ever. You’re the first, and oftentimes the only one, who pays the price when things go south. You must achieve the seasonal targets and at the same time you must make your team play an attractive hockey.
There are those who think that a coach greatly affects a team’s results. Others instead, think that a coach only accounts for about 25% of a team’s results…
The truth is, however, that a team can’t play without a coach. Let’s see, therefore, the 12 coaches who will be in charge – at least initially… – of the National League teams during the 2019-20 season!
Some of them are new, others are making a name for themselves and finally there are some who already won a lot. Let’s get to know them, team by team.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order. In this second article, we present you the coaches of the last six teams…
Important to note: we talk about coaches but nowadays each coach has a staff who plays a crucial role too. When we refer to a coach then, we refer also to all the technical staff.
Among the Finnish coaches in Switzerland, Ville Peltonen proved to be perhaps the least “flexible” when it comes to play the “Finnish style”. His Lausanne last season proposed a very organized hockey that left little room for the show … sometimes, we are sorry to say, but it seemed that the Lions Vaudois played without emotion because of the system of play. It must be said at the same time, that Ville Peltonen was able to lead Lausanne to the semifinals for the first time in history. And that when the team followed to the letter its game plan, the opponents were frustrated thanks to an incredible solidity and defensive organization. Let’s not forget, moreover, that it was the first year as a head coach in Switzerland for Ville Peltonen. Previously in fact, as a coach, he spent two seasons in Bern as Kari Jalonen assistant… and was also an assistant coach of the HIFK U20 in Finland. As a player on the other hand, everyone knows him… Ville Peltonen was an impressive player who, among others, wore also the jersey of Lugano between 2003 and 2006, winning a title as well. In his career, he also collected almost 400 NHL appearances with the jerseys of San José Sharks, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers. Ville ended his career as a player in 2014, after spending the last four seasons as a captain at HIFK.
Sami Kapanen increases to 4 the number of Finnish coaches in Switzerland. As a coach, his only experience is connected to KalPa in Finland, where he has been assistant coach since 2016 and head coach during the last two seasons. It should be noted that, since 2003, he’s also been the owner of KalPa. The impressions related to the Sami Kapanen as a coach are those of the Spengler Cup 2018, where KalPa have shown a very fast, modern and spectacular hockey. We are curious to see how Lugano will play. On the other hand, talking about Sami Kapanen as a player is way too simple… he is a real legend who has collected over 900 NHL appearances with the jerseys of Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. At the end of his overseas adventure, Sami Kapanen returned to Finland where he played 5 seasons with KalPa before hanging up his skates.
SC RAPPERSWIL-JONA LAKERS
Jeff Tomlinson arrived in Rapperswil back in 2015 and at the third attempt he managed to bring the Lakers back to the NLA. It’s not easy to judge his work during the 2018-19 season, because Rapperswil was obviously the “weakest” team – on paper – of the league. Still, we had the impression that Jeff has always been able to keep the situation under control and in spite of everything Rappi has grown as the season went by. Previously, as a coach, Jeff Tomlinson coached in Germany the Juniors of the Eisbären Berlin and was then assistant coach of the first team always in Berlin. Between 2010 and 2015 then, before coming to Switzerland, he coached the DEG Metro Stars, the Nürnberg Ice Tigers and the Eisbären Berlin in the German DEL. As a player on the other hand, Jeff Tomlinson played overseas in the WHL and EHCL… before moving to Germany, where he played in the second division for the ETC Timmendorfer Strand and then in the DEL with the Berlin Capitals. He then spent three seasons in Great Britain, where he wore the Manchester Storms’ jersey… before returning to Germany, where he played three seasons for the Eisbären Berlin. Finally, he hung up his skates in 2003.
In our opinion, Heinz Ehlers is very underrrated and unjustly defined a pure defensive-minded coach. It’s true that Heinz wants his team to be rock solid first… but as we saw last season, he also manages to make his teams play a very exciting and fast hockey. Heinz Ehlers arrived in Langnau in October 2016 to replace Scott Beattie… Previously, he had trained – in Switzerland – Lausanne, Langenthal, Biel and Altstadt Olten. His career as a coach on the other hand, had begun in Denmark at the AaB Ishockey. That is, where he also ended his career as a player in 2004. And it was all in all a brilliant career… Heinz was a centre that played in Sweden for the Leksands IF, the AIK and the Rögle BK. He also played in Switzerland, where he wore the Biel jersey during the 1993-94 season… then he moved to Austria where he played two seasons with Klagenfurter AC and then went to the German DEL where he played for Augsburger Panther and the Berlin Capitals a total of 6 and a half seasons.
Dan Tangnes was impressive last season… Zug in fact showed at times the most spectacular hockey of the league. Modern hockey. All the players have a precise role but the coach also leaves the players freedom to take initiative. It impressed us sometimes to see how defensemen were very creative in the offensive zone. Dan Tangnes started his coaching career in 2005, when he was assistant coach of Rögle BK U20 in Sweden. The following year he was the head coach of Jonstorps IF in Division 1 in Sweden… and then returned to Rögle BK where he remained until October 2013. In 2014 he trasferred to Linköping HC… where he was first assistant coach for one season and then head coach for three seasons. As a player on the other hand, Dan didn’t have a very long career… he played in Sweden, for Rögle BK, Gislaveds SK and Jonstorps IF. In the middle, he spent a season in his home country – Norway – playing with the Lillehammer. Dan Tangnes then hung up his skates in 2005, when he was only 26 years old. He was meant to be a coach, after all.
Rikard Grönborg is one of the most anticipated coaches… and he will try to make the ZSC Lions fly again! Actually, it’s safe to say that it’s gonna be a test also for him. Rikard in fact, is a great coach who has been successful with the Swedish National Team but hasn’t coached a club since 2003, when he coached the Central Texas Blackhawks (AWHL). Since 2004, on the other hand, he’s been part of the staff of the Swedish National Ice Hockey team … first he was a scout, then assistant coach and finally head coach. Rikard Grönborg as a player on the other hand, has not had a very long career. He played as a defenseman in Sweden between 1986 and 1989 with the jersey of Huddinge IK in Division 1… Between 1989 and 1992 he moved to the prestigious NCAA where he played for St. Cloud State University… later, he returned to Sweden where he wore the jerseys of Tyringe SoSS and Hammarby IF. Finally, back in 1994, he hung up his skates.
Well, we presented you all the National League coaches. Who’s your favourite one? See you soon guys.
And to all the coaches… enjoy your season!