Hokej.net has reported the six candidates for Poland’s next head coach.
“Przeprowadziliśmy więc własne śledztwo. Wynika z niego, że aplikacje złożyli Tomek Valtonen, Andrej Husau, David Leger, Andriej Sidorenko, a także Krzysztof Majkowski i Słowak z czeskim paszportem Ernest Bokroš. ”
Glen Hanlon was also interested in the job but did not submit an application in time.
Valtonen is a former Finnish-Polish player, who played a physical game. He as a 2nd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. He would play one season in North America for the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. After that, he returned to Finland, where he played 8 straight seasons with Jokerit in the Liiga. He would retire in 2009 playing one for more season with Jokerit after he played only 4 games in the Swedish Elite League. In total, Valtonen would record 68 goals and 65 assists in 421 games along with 738 penalty minutes. He would also play over 90 games with Finland’s national team.
Right after he retired from playing at the age of 29, Valtonen went into coaching. He was an assistant coach for Jokerit’s u20 team. The following season, he would take over as head coach for the U20 team and hold the role for two seasons. Valtonen moved up to professional hockey as an assistant coach for Jokerit. This same year, he also served as an assistant on Finland’s World Junior team. The following year Vlatonen would already get his professional head coaching chance with Jokerit after replacing Tomi Lämsä midseason. Jokerit would not retain him and Valtonen would take a head coaching job with Vaasan Sport. He would hold the title from 2014-2018.
Valtonen has a lot of pros that make him the leading candidate for Poland’s head coaching job. Valtonen is the youngest candidate at only 37 years old. He has Polish roots and even speaks Polish. He has coached at the highest level most recently and has the most recent top-level playing experience. He also would be in Poland year round as he will be coaching Podhale Nowy Targ. He comes with negatives, during his 4 years with Sport in the Liiga, he never had a winning record and only made the playoffs once.
Husau, or Gosuov, is a Belarusian former player. He spent most of his career in Belarus, Poland, and Russia. He represented Belarus in tons of international tournaments and at multiple World Championships. He retired in 2004-05. That year he was also a coach for HK-Brest’s second team and Belarus’ u18 team. Husau would later become a head coach for Keramin Minsk and eventually get a head coaching chance with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL. Minsk would not bring him and Husau would serve 7 seasons as the head coach for Shakhter Soligorsk. He would also serve as an assistant coach for Belarus, during his time in the KHL and with Shakhter Soligorsk. In 2017-18, Husau would leave Belarus and take a job coaching GKS Tychy in Poland. In his first season in Poland, he won a championship. Husau comes with a long of good experience and knowledge of the Polish hockey league. He also has already committed to coaching GKS Tychy again next year and would be in Poland year round. He has won championships in both Belarus and Poland as a coach.
Leger never played professional hockey and spent his entire career in hockey coaching. He got his first coaching job in 1998 with the Hawkesbury Hawks in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leauge. He would work his way to head coaching chance with them but would leave the following season to work at the University of Ottawa. After 3 seasons as an assistant coach for the University, he would take over as head coach and hold the role for 8 years. Afer his stint at Ottawa, he would move around a lot of coaching in the OHL, Asia League, Erste League, and ECHL as head coach and assistant coach. Last season he coached Poland’s u18 and u20 team internationally and coached the PHL’s SMS U20 Katowice. Leger is a coach, who has spent his entire career in developing players and helping mold them as people. Poland’s youth is their most important asset and Leger’s experience with coaching young players would be quite the asset for Poland. Leger also knows most of Poland’s future core, coaching them already. I also was a fan of his work at the international level this year for Poland. I believe Leger has a lot of value for Poland. While that doesn’t qualify him automatically to be Poland’s head coach, I would hope Poland keeps him around.
Bokros is probably the most shocking candidate outside of the reported Glen Hanon interest. Bokros played in the Czech league in the 80s when it was Czechoslovakia. He retired in 1993. He started coaching and became a staple of the Slovakian national team. He has served as the assistant coach on their World Championship teams and has held basically every role for their U20 and u18 national teams. He also served as the head coach for HC Zlin in the Czech league for 5 years. Bokros has plenty of other head coaching jobs across Czechnia and Slovakia, but the biggest one for Poland to pay attention to is his work as head coach of Team Slovakia U20. Team Slovakia u20 is a team that plays in Slovakia’s top league consisting of players under 20. Poland needs someone to help players develop and Bokros, like Leger, has a lot of experience under his wings. I’m not really sure what to think of Bokros, just due to how much of outsider he is and not knowing his plans for next season. He currently doesn’t have a coaching job, but Poland needs someone who will be in Poland year round.
Sidorenko is personally my least favorite candidate. It is nothing personal against him or believing he is under qualified it comes down him wanting to keep his current VHL job if coaching the national team. Again Poland needs someone who is going to be in Poland year round and invested in Poland, there can not be another Ted Nolan type season. Sidorenko was a former player in the Soviet league and went into coaching upon his retirement. He has been a head coach in hockey since 1992 and includes head coaching in Belarus, KHL, VHL, and Poland. Sidorenko has also coached the national team before in 2004-05. He coached them to a great performance at the Olympic Qualifiers and a Silver medal in the Division 1 Group A worlds. He had also served as team Belarus head coach at multiple international events. There is a lot to love about him as a coach, but Poland needs a coach who will be focused on Poland.
Majkowski is former Polish player. He spent most of his career with GKS Tychy playing 17 seasons for them. He represented Poland once at the U18s in 1996. Majowski was never a top polish player but played a nice stay at home defensive game that kept him in the league for a long time. Since retiring in 2013, he has served as an assistant coach on GKS Tychy. Started in 2017, he has been an assistant coach on team Poland at the World Championships. At 40 years old, Majkowski is still young enough to continue working his way up the coaching ladder, but without a head coaching job yet and not a lot of experience it just doesn’t make sense for him to take on such a large project.