Hand Rocks Team GB Cradle
Despite only being in the job for 18 months Tony Hand has left his post the Great Britain head coach. The Manchester Phoenix player/ coach announced the decision at the IHUK meeting on Thursday.
Handâ€™s departure comes on the back of a mixed season for the national squad. The team made final qualification stage for the Olympics next season but were relegated from division 1A at the World Championships. Handâ€™s decision to leave his post does leave a gap at the top.
With former head coach Paul Thompson now coaching in Sweden the options for a British coach seem rather limited. The international issue would also rule out another former Team GB international in Rob Wilson. There are few candidates in the UK who would meet a criteria of being in ice hockey terms at least British and working in the UKâ€™s top flight.
Nottingham Panthers head coach Corey Neilson has now shown he has the ability to win the EIHL and not just cup competitions whilst Dundeeâ€™s Jeff Hutchinâ€™s also has EIHL experience. These two may the first to come to mind however neither of these two had shown much interest in the position following the departure of Paul Thompson and neither have been involved with the national side at a coaching level.
Another name that may come out of the blue though is that of Paul Adey. The dual national represented Team GB in mid 1990â€™s before coaching the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers. Adey recently returned to the UK to join the Belfast Giants as their new head coach. Adey though may be out of touch with the British game and potential GB internationals but with the World Championships a season a way it could be worth punt.
Another punt could be on that of assistant Nottingham Head Coach Rick Strachan. The former Hull boss has been a pivotal force behind the bench at Nottingham and was assistant coach to Chris McSorley before become Head Coach in 2004. This experience of working in a poorly funded operation could be what the GB Team needs.
Of course though a non-British connected manager is nothing unusual for the national team. This of course brings in early front runner for the top job of Doug Christiansen. The former Edinburgh and Belfast supremo was assistant to Tony Hand during his tenure. The new Sheffield Steelerâ€™s boss may be right man for the job but having seen the state of the national team from the inside could he be put off?