Former Coventry Blaze and Sheffield Steelers Head Coach Paul Thompson is back in hockey employment. Today Deutsche Eishockey League (DEL) side Schwenninger Wild Wings announced they had appointed him in succession to Canadian Pat Cortina who was relieved of his Head Coach duties towards the back end of last month.
Thompson, 53, of course was last seen in coaching action in Sheffield last month when he resigned from the Steelers for “personal reasons” as Head Coach and General Manager after three seasons in charge. Now, he’s back in hockey and with a challenge to get the Wild Wings season turned around. And what a challenge that is…
At the time of writing this article, Schwenninger lie rank bottom of the DEL. So the only way is up for Thompson and his new charges. Their record shows just one regulation win and one overtime win in 17 games played with 13 losses coming in regulation time too. They are five points adrift of Grizzlys Wolfsburg and Thompson is going to have to pull some rabbits out of the hat to avoid a bottom placed finish.
This is of course not Paul Thompson’s first foray into European hockey coaching. Prior to arriving in Sheffield, the former GB national coach also coached in the Allsvenskan with Troja-Ljungby and in the Metal Ligaen with Aålborg Pirates with little terms of success as regards silverware. Troja were relegated to Hockeyettan (3rd tier of the Swedish structure) whilst Aålborg finished 8th. However despite this, on his return to Britain, Thompson felt he had learned loads in those jobs and it had enhanced his hockey education.
It promises to be an interesting appointment, and has certainly got fans in the Elite League talking. One can only wonder, is this a gamble that Schwenninger will succeed in or will Thompson face more European dismay? We shall be watching with keen interest for sure.