Jordan Krestanovich has now been announced as the Braehead Clan’s new head coach. The 31 year-old from Langley, British Colombia has played for 2 years in Glasgow and will continue to play. By becoming a player-coach Krestanovich’s appointment does not buck the trend in the EIHL.
Out of the entire elite league only Belfast, Coventry and with the retirement of Ryan Finnerty, Sheffield will be operating with the head coach also behind the bench. It is a norm that is based around the philosophy that by having a player-coach a team can essentially have an extra player out of the budget. However the vast majority of teams then include a bench coach on their payroll which makes the thinking behind cost saving seem a little backward.
It also seems a backward way of working when you consider that the only player coaches to win the EIHL title have been Ben Simon (Sheffield Steelers 2010) and Ed Courtney (Belfast Giants 2006). This stat has also changed the recruitment policies of the Belfast Giants from player-coach to a full time coach, which paid off in 2012 when Doug Christiansen led them to the EIHL title.
There is no doubting Jordan Krestanovich’s playing ability and experience. He was a 5th round NHL draftee, WHL winner, has stacks of AHL, ECHL and European league experience, scoring bags of points along the way. It is a CV that will do nothing but help Krestanovich in being a coach but if he has to play as well where is his concentration.
For a club like the Braehead Clan who have in their short existence proved they can mix it with the best and more established teams isn’t it time they appointed a full time coach. A coach that could concentrate on coaching a team to win a game rather than coaching a team to play together and relay on talent and so make the next step up the league.
The Clan are not alone in needing to break the norm. The Nottingham Panthers are in a similar if not crazier position. Former GB and Hull Stingrays head coach Rik Strachan is backing up player-head coach Corey Neilson on the bench. Whilst Neilson has produced a successful side on the ice that has won both the Challenge Cup and the Playoff title for the last 2 seasons, the Panthers have somewhat struggled to mount a sustained attack on their most sought after piece of silverware the league title.
It is hard to say that if bringing in a non-playing head coach will make the Panthers or the Clan a instant title contender but the sustained success of Dave Matsos and Paul Thompson does point to this being a way forward.