For the first time since Per Holten Moller (1989-1994) the Danish men’s team will be led by a Danish head coach as Heinz Ehlers signed a two-year contract.
The 52-year-old is considered as one of the best Danish players ever and represented his country in nine IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments and is the father of a current national team player, Winnipeg Jets star Nikolaj Ehlers.
Heinz Ehlers has spent most of his coaching career in Switzerland since moving there in 2007. Since 2016 he’s the head coach of the SCL Tigers Langnau in the National League where he’s under contract for the next two seasons as well. The parties agreed that he will combine his club and national team duties.
Ehlers already joined the national team as an assistant coach this spring for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice where his main duties were offence and the power play. This short stint has now turned into a job as head coach.
On the Danish national team he will be assisted by Jens Nielsen, who is the assistant coach of Swedish club Leksand and will take over Ehlers’ old role focusing on offence and power play, and during the World Championship also by Swedish coach Rikard Franzen, who is Ehlers’ assistant in Langnau and will focus on defence. Former Danish national team goalie Peter Hirsch, who works for Timra IK in Sweden, will be the goaltending and video coach.
“I start the work as national coach with joy and pride. But I also know that it will be a big challenge in the upcoming World Championship in Slovakia. I’m looking forward to get it started, and there’s a lot of work in the near future so we can get the organization in place,” said Heinz Ehlers.
“We are going to go more organizational to certain things in the upcoming season. More video analysis and deeper analysis of our own game combined with bigger requirements on the players’ discipline and organization. I expect the concept to be tighter and a bit more defensive so that it will hopefully give us a greater chance of getting closer to the good teams. We will not go into a game against Canada the same way we go for a game against Korea.”
Last month Denmark successfully hosted its first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship although the success was more on than off the ice. Denmark reached the quarter-finals twice in World Championship history in 2010 and 2016 but missed to do so on home ice after a 1-0 loss in the last game against Latvia.
At the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from 10 to 26 May 2019 in Slovakia, Denmark is seeded in Group A in Kosice with Canada, the United States, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, France and Great Britain.