Sometimes things happen in hockey that take you by surprise.
I woke up this Saturday morning, October 4th to find that Medvescak Zagreb had parted ways with Head Coach Chuck Weber.
The surprise for me was the timing of the firing, coming after their first win after three straight defeats at Dom Sportova.
Let’s not kid ourselves here though. Despite the turnover of player and staff, this Medvescak team was a shadow of last season’s Bears. Chuck Weber is a thoroughly nice guy and well respected in North America, but under his control, Medvescak seemed to lack structure throughout the team.
I had some reservations about Weber’s appointment when it was announced. There’s a big difference between the role’s he held with the San Antonio Rampage and then at Medvescak.
At the AHL level, the focus is on development. Winning is nice, championships are great and breeding a winning mentality is a fantastic thing, but development is the name of the game in the American Hockey League.
At Medvescak, in the KHL, winning is pretty much all that matters. An inaugural season where they made the post-season has raised expectations somewhat, and while they will always struggle to compete with the likes of CSKA et al, losing the first four games of the season and allowing 18 goals in the process is not acceptable.
I wish Weber all the best whatever he does next but I also applaud Medvescak for acting so promptly to stop this season turning into a huge tailspin. Too many teams wait too long for things to turn around when it’s fundamentally clear that a big change is required.
I assume because of the timing that the Bears have someone lined up. Another Mark French will be hard to find so perhaps they will try and go with someone who has a little more experience in the European game, the KHL specifically.
This is a big juncture in Medvescak’s season as they sit five points outside the playoffs and face eight of the next nine fixtures on the road. Any chance they have of reconstructing last years heroics, will need to see a turnaround in October.