Payette Steps Down But Who Can Step Up?
Andre Payette has now stepped down after a little less than a season in charge of the Great Britain Under 20â€™s. The appointment of the Sheffield Steeldogs coach was always controversial. Payette was after all in his first coaching position and his brand of hard hitting aggressive hockey does not translate well to the more finesse style of the international scene.
Under Payette the GB Junior team won one game with as they finished 5th at the World Championships in the Ukraine. An admirable finish given the quality of the opposition however Payetteâ€™s leaving provides the best opportunity for Ice Hockey to instigate a training policy for British coaches that is similar to that of the successful Swedish model.
It is a model were by coaches are introduced to the national programme and at a junior level and move up as opportunities arise at the next level until becoming full international coach. With coaches such as Peter Russell coaching in the EPL there are candidates for the job with potential to develop into the next national team coach.
There is a catch though. The junior programme only allows a coach to coach at the level in a handful of games throughout the year. What is needed is a change of attitude in the Elite League. It will take a brave move at the Elite League level by a side to hire a British coach but it is one that will benefit the league and the sport in the UK. That is not to mention the national team on the international stage.
It will not be an easy move but it was that could be likened to signing of British goalies a few years ago. The signings of Stevie Lyle and Stephen Murphy gave the Basingstoke Bison and the Manchester Phoenix a lift by allowing them to sign an extra import. Despite some initial pain as the pair adjusted to live a starting role in the Elite League both sides made the Challenge Cup final. The performances of both Lyle and Murphy lead to them being signed up by the Belfast Giants whilst their international careers went from to strength to strength as the GB team improved with their improvement.
Indeed the improvement seen in Stephen Murphy was a contributing factor in him winning the league title in 2012 and dispelling the Dave Simms myth that a British starting goalie could not win the league title.
It seems that the next step could be to start a new myth that a British coach that it isnâ€™t Coventryâ€™s Paul Thompson could not win the Elite League title if only to then dispel that too.