Thread: Switzerland: National team discussion
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05-29-2012, 04:06 AM
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I think that the playing style issue is a bit overdone. Krüger's basic system was always the same, but sometimes the team was passive in the neutral zone, sometimes it used a more agressive forechecking (remember some goals scored by the Paterlini-Ziegler-Rüthemann line by forcing a turnover in the offensive zone), even though the basics was always one man up forcing the play along the boards. Every coach will use the system that he thinks gives the highest chance of winning games, and after the Salt Lake City disaster, Krüger only trusted the one he got success with early on. But playing style notwithstanding, I don't remember ever seeing Swiss national team players looking as confused about what they had to do as this year.

Some of you have mentioned luck to explain Krüger's achievements, but luck works both way (for example getting just the right results to reach the semifinals in 98 vs hitting the posts tons of time in 09). In the end, we have eight top 8 finishes in 12 World Championship, which is a large enough sample to conclude that Switzerland was actually a top 8 team during that span.

Anyway, I disagree with Duga's idea that Krüger's system was hindering development. There is only so much a national team coach can do regarding development, he has to work with the players available, and getting more and better players is a long term process that has to start way below then national team. His task was to rank in the top 8 while 7 teams were clearly superior, and playing mistake free hockey was the only way to do it. I think we can all agree that it's a bad idea for Switzerland (or anyone else for that matter) to enter a game against Russia with the idea of beating them with pure skill.

Anothere point that hasn't been discussed is player selection. With Krüger, even though I admit I often didn't agree with his choices, they all made perfect sense. You had the feeling he had the team build in his mind and then picked the right player for each role. With Simpson, I just don't have that same feeling. It seems that he first chooses the players, and only then try to work a lineup out of them, and while Krüger always had four functioning lines, with Simpson there is a lot of tweaking going on and he ends up with three strong lines and one that looks more like a "best of the rest" one (see Jenni-Trachsler-Duca in 2010 or Lemm-Bieber-Sancescu in 2011. I won't comment on this year's lines too much because of all the injuries).

We could also question the selection of new players who in the end weren't up to the task. Plüss for example worked very hard and had the skating skills required to play at this level, but he simply didn't bring much. Wouldn't a more proven player like Déruns have done better, despite his poor club season? We'll never know for sure, but past experiences such as Paterlini in 08 or Sannitz in 09 suggest he would.

Some food for thought. But I want to make clear that I don't suggest that Simpson should be fired and that Krüger should return, but given that last two WC, I think it's worth having the discussion.

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