We were combing through some stats, until when we hit on a statistic that made us wonder… is Sami Kapanen like Arno Del Curto? Not really. Yet, the two coaches have something in common. We’ll get there.

There are those players who, obviously and understandably, have more time on ice compared to others. If we take the official data from the NL website, the player with the highest time on ice on average per game is Henrik Tömmernes of Genève Servette. The latter’s time on ice on average per game is 24:01. Taylor Chorney of Lugano is second with 23:46 while Ben Maxwell of Langnau is third placed with 23:20.

What’s interesting to analyze, however, is the time on ice/shift. And to do so for each team. Let’s have a look.


Data updated to 07.11.2019

Antti Törmänen and Sami Kapanen. What do those two coaches have in common? Well, they’re both Finnish for instance. Moreover, they both want their teams to play a fast and modern hockey.

Those two coaches, however, have two completely different philosophies when it comes to the length of shifts.

Bienne in fact, have the highest length of shift of the National League with approximately 42 seconds. Bern, Fribourg Gottéron, Zug and Lausanne have similar data. What surprises us the most, however, is that Lugano are by far the ones with the shortest lenght of shifts.

We’re talking about 10 seconds less for each shift compared to Bienne. That’s not nothing.

It’s a very interesting data in our opinion. If we take for example the data of Lugano of last season and we compare them to the ones of this one… we find out that the length of shift of Lugano coached by Greg Ireland was 41.47 seconds. In other words, Lugano coached by Sami Kapanen prefer short but intense shifts 8 seconds shorter.

But who are other coaches with figures similar to the ones of Sami Kapanen? Not many in fact.

This season for example, Patrick Emond – at his first NL season – likes his team to play short and intense shifts, but we’re still talking about shifts 4 seconds longer than Lugano. Same goes for Luca Cereda and his Ambrì-Piotta.

And so, the coach who is (was) more similar to Sami Kapanen when it comes to the management of the shifts is Arno Del Curto. His Davos in fact, used to have very short and intense shifts.

Let’s take the 2017-18 season for example, the last complete season of Davos under Arno Del Curto. That season, the Ibexes’ average shifts length was 32.88 seconds. The same happened the previous season (2016-17) when Davos’ average shift length was 32.56. We mean, these figures are even lower than the ones of Lugano this season.

So once again, is Sami Kapanen like Arno Del Curto? Surely not in many aspects.

But when it comes to the management of the shifts, the two coaches have something in common.

Modern ice hockey is getting more and more intense and gruelling. Shorter shifts, could deliver benefits on the long term when it comes to the physical condition.

Many people in Lugano, complained about the fact that Taylor Chorney’s time on ice was too high. Not many probably considered that the Canadian’s defenseman shifts are very short though.

Let’s face it, Sami Kapanen’s style of play is potentially very catchy. There is no denying, however, that if the players aren’t at the top of their physical condition… the Bianconeri pay a high price, also because they don’t really have scoring machine or those kind of players who, alone, can make the difference when the team generally has a bad night.

The fact that the shifts are very short, however, should allow Lugano to be in a good form on the long term. Not for nothing, oftentimes in the past, Davos reached the playoffs in a very good form.

But what are the positive and negative factors when your shifts are so short?

It’s certainly positive that, potentially, players get less tired. We mean, short and intense play. Instead, it’s negative that the players have less time on ice to make the difference.

One thing is sure though, Lugano coached by Sami Kapanen can afford to have very short shifts because, oftentimes, they have a good puck possession. Otherwise in fact, it would be difficult to handle the shifts that way.

What we just said is confirmed also by the CORSI index, the data that – anyway – is the most accurate when it comes to check the teams’ puck possession. If we compare the shifts’ length with the CORSI Index in fact…

Source: nlicedata.com

Bienne and Bern have the highest shift length and even have the lowest CORSI Index. Meanwhile Lugano, with the shortest shifts’ length, have the second best CORSI of the league.

Zug are the exception here, but Dan Tangnes deserves a separate discussion. In fact, we think that there are no other coaches around like him. But we’ll talk about that on a different occasion.

Then again, you can’t say that this is the winning approach. Bern won the title last year even though Kari Jalonen had a 41:09 seconds time of shift, after all. We mean, similar to the one of this season.

Though, who knows, Sami Kapanen might have brought a new phylosophy in Switzerland. Time will tell if also other coaches follow the example… even if Arno Del Curto had the same idea earlier and turned out to be a winner. And what about Arno told us already the future?

We mean, finally, is Sami Kapanen like Arno Del Curto? When it comes to pressure on the opponents in the offensive zone and short but intense shifts…. yes. Who knows, perhaps also the Finnish coach of Lugano will be as successfull as the legend Arno. Also in this case, only time will tell.