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Urs Berger The Hockey Writers

Published on Friday, February 28, 2020





Swiss Hockey Dealing With Coronavirus & Coaching Upheaval

For the first time since World War II as for the general enlistment into the military in 1940 and, only for that year, Swiss Hockey might not crown a champion and one-third of National League teams have had coaching changes.

Related: 10 Reasons Hockey Is the Greatest Sport on Earth

The last two games in the National League will be held with no attendance. This because of the coronavirus that has spread around Switzerland and did infect approximately 20 persons. Those persons are confirmed to have the virus, the Swiss Minister of Health, Alain Berset, forbode any gatherings of peoples with more than 1000 attendees. Therefore, the last two games in the regular season will be played without spectators.

This may sound like kind of a harsh reaction. But in fact, it is a precaution. After the coronavirus reached Europe in the last week, the European governments are handling the outspread of this differently. Italy shut down the carnival in Venice and cancelled all soccer games for this weekend. Italy has also reported at least 50 persons with the infection of the virus. In Germany, on the other hand, there is no action being taken until now, even if the number of people reported to be infected with the virus has reached 40. In France, there are currently no known infections. However, it’s certain that their government will also take action when required. So it’s no wonder that the Swiss government isn’t taking any chances.

No Fans

The Swiss National League (both hockey and soccer), concerts, and even carnivals are all cancelled for the next 14 days. But how will the top two Swiss hockey leagues handle the playoffs? The Swiss League has already started their playoffs and is in the quarterfinals. In the National League, the top league in Switzerland, the playoffs are scheduled to start next Saturday, March 7. The decision will be discussed in both leagues’ meetings this Monday.

Killian Mottet, Fribourg
Killian Mottet from Fribourg (front) and his teammate salute their Fans after a win against Lausanne HC. This weekend they have to play in front of empty arenas because of the coronavirus. (PPR/Cyril Zingaro)

There are some ideas about how the championship will be played. The ideas go from cancelling the remainder of the seasons, shortening the playoffs to best-of-five or best-of-three series or to combine this season with next season.

Cancel Postseason, Shorten Playoffs, or Combine Seasons?

But what will happen to the Swiss League teams who have a chance to get promoted or to the National League teams on the verge of being relegated? Does the top Swiss League team simply get promoted while the bottom National League team get relegated? Or will both leagues decide to move on with each league playing with 13 teams? That’s a lot of uncertainty.

As Klaus Zaugg reports on (in German) these are all possibilities. No one has any ideas on how to proceed. The only sure thing is that the two last regular-season games will take place at the National League level today and tomorrow. What will happen next is yet to be determined.

One-Third of Teams Changed Coaches

There is another novelty in the National League. One-third of the teams changed their head coach during this season. Even if you know Swiss Hockey, that’s a surprising amount of turnover. In Bern, Kari Jalonen was fired and replaced by Hans Kossmann. In Lausanne, Ville Peltonen and general manager Jan Alston were replaced by Craig McTavish and John Fust. Lugano fired their coach earlier and replaced him with Serge Pelletier.

Craig MacTavish
Craig McTavish (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

And, as already discussed, Christian Dubé took over at Fribourg Gottéron. This means all four teams that are fighting for a spot in the playoffs have changed there coaches during the season. The most recent victim of this coaching turnover was Peltonen.

This will lead to some big shuffles at the coaching position for all four teams. Who will be the head coach in those clubs beginning the next season? The speculation is starting to grow.

The post Swiss Hockey Dealing With Coronavirus & Coaching Upheaval appeared first on The Hockey Writers.


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