Thommo To Target Troja Triumph

In almost proof that silly season in terms of transfers is upon us it seems Coventry Blaze head coach Paul Thompson is about to be unveiled as the new coach of Troja Ljungby of the Swedish Allsvenskan league. It is a move that could well benefit the British international game as well.

Thompson has been the only coach of the Coventry Blaze since their move from Solihull to Coventry in 2000 and has guided the team from minnows to one of the most successful in the country. In his time at the Blaze Thompson won 4 Elite League championships, 2 challenge cups and a playoff championship including all three titles in 2005.

The Blaze however have not hit the heady heights since 2010 as they struggle to find the right blend of physicality, skill and experience and have struggled with financial issues. Thompson has though remained a powerful coach and was in charge of the British national team until December 2011.

The move whilst being a shock could also prove to be most successful for the British game. In recent years the national team’s successes over the likes of the Ukraine have seen several players picked up by continental teams such Ben O’Connor who now plays in Kazakhstan and Troja’s own Robert Dowd. By having a British coach who knows the British league and British players inside out heading up a team in Sweden could open the door to yet more talent heading to the continent which can only boost the national team in its hunt for World Championship status.

The Coventry Blaze have been known for bring through talent. The likes of Ben O’Connor and Ross Venus have both come through the system at the Skydome and made the national squad. It will be interesting to see who will make Thompson’s squad in Sweden next year and if any of these are Brits but one thing is for sure it is an opportunity for British players to play in a higher standard of league where perhaps they would previously of been over looked. As Thompson knows British players who are currently on the outside of the national squad it could provide a bigger scope of players the opportunity not just those who will travel to the World Championships next month.

There are however other coaches that have coached in the UK and headed overseas. Chris McSorley, Paul Adey and Rob Wilson have all been here and gone there without taking British talent with them. However McSorley went the prestigious Swiss National League, which is a step up too far given the NHL talent found there. Rob Wilson headed to Italy with its strict import quota not providing the opportunity for British players and Paul Adey was more familiar with the British game in open import era of the Superleague before falling foul of the import quota in Italy as well. With the signing season about to start we will need to watch this space closely to find out.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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