Rich Chernomaz lasts only 6 months as Panthers Head Coach. In this article we look at his impact in Nottingham, where it went wrong and where do Panthers go from here.
Back in August this season was described as the “new era” a new coach in with a vast amount of experience coaching at different levels. A roster complete with players that could fit in easily to the majority of EIHL teams as well as many in Europe.
Panthers were unstoppable in pre season winning the Aladdin Cup in Wales, a trophy long ago in our clutches. We out played European opposition, we seamed to have a structure and the chemistry between players obvious.
The season started well, Panthers were top for a while but the decent results dried up and top spot was lost to Belfast, other teams having games in hand. The season went sour quite quickly, a real lack of consistency was blatantly apparent. If I ever had issues sleeping I wouldn’t need sleeping pills, just wander down to the Motorpoint for two hours watching Panthers play and your insomnia would be cured. Dull, unimaginative, boring hockey would be a way of describing what was on offer, no true style of play evident and no plan b. Watching Paws play drums was more entertaining.
One thing that truly stood out to me was line changes. Yes, we had injuries and that would impact these but the injuries in question were to Rheault and Henderson, long term injuries that would give Chernomaz time to keep the same lines. This wasn’t the case and game after game lines would change. I’m not an expert but how can you expect consistency? It could be argued that players should be able to play with every single player on the roster, to account for injury and suspensions but you need consistency from your lines.
One decision made by Chernomaz that had fans flabbergasted was the decision to scratch Alex Guptill from the home game against Manchester. A game where we didn’t score a single goal and were easily beaten. The chances were there but no end product.
The team that would dump and chase like last season appeared to be back. Often one player would be on their own in an offensive area with no man to pass to. Some might say this should have been addressed by the coach and I would say this should have been the case. Majority of the roster often seemed lethargic and uninterested, hopefully this will change and if it does we could assume this is down to Chernomaz. Rumours were rife that he lost the dressing room and I’d say this is a fair assumption.
I’m surprised that the Panthers hierarchy have terminated his contract but I feel this was the right decision now to save our season.
Who next for Panthers?
Whoever is bought in has got to be aware of fan expectations and will be expected to hit the ground running. For me I’d give the job to Pete Russell if he would take it. He’s experienced as a coach in this league and experienced on the international stage. Nobody expected the emergence of the GB side, a side boasting 6 Panthers players. Surely a natural progression from Clan to Panthers you would say? He was mentioned in the summer and numerous fans scoffed at the thought of him, would these same fans have the same opinion now?
He is now in his mother country and may want to settle there but if the chance to coach Panthers came up would he take it?? Only time will tell.
If not Russell, Jim Paek. A former Panthers D man who would be adored by fans. This was shown when he recently attended a match and was welcomed with open arms. He doesn’t have experience managing in this league but has a wealth of experience as a coach especially at International level with South Korea. I’d expect him to be on the shortlist however he has just signed a new contract with Korea.
Whoever gets the job it needs to be the right choice and it appears Black and Moran are willing to take their time to get the right man in, giving Rich Strachan the role until the summer.
We are still up for the Challenge Cup, and possibly the Playoffs if we qualify. The league title is also a possible but less likely than the latter. If we were to win any of these you could say this season was a success.
“Let’s Go Panthers”