“The shootout was a very unfortunate way to end a five-game playoff series,” Simpson said after being eliminated by the Kölner Haie at home last Tuesday. “But that’s the rule. I’d have preferred to play on. We saw a great series that was tight to the very end. Before the series, I had guessed that it had the potential to go over five games. Both teams were pretty even, they gave everything they had.”
The fact that the semifinal loss marked the worst-finish in the franchise’s three-year history speaks for itself.”Very proud to be the coach of this team”
“I’m very proud of my team,” Simpson added. “It’s not been an easy year for us. We’ve been plagued by a lot of injuries. But we always found a way to battle back and be successful. I’m very proud to be the coach of this team.”
Despite injuries to key players, the Barons finished the 60-game regular season on top of the league for the first time, setting a new DEL record for most points (121 = 33 wins, 10 shootout wins, 2 regulation ties/shootout losses, 15 losses).
Especially Munich’s defense was hampered by injuries all year. Regulars Jason Herter and Kent Fearns both appeared in only 19 games, Shane Peacock and linemate Hans Lodin missed a quarter of the games respectively. So others had to step in. 40-year-old Eddie Uvira, who won the World Championship with Czechoslovakia in 1985, made a surprise comeback, fellow-veteran Greg Johnston returned from a disappointing stint in Sweden, youngster Patrick Köppchen got more ice-time than originally anticipated. Natural forward Andy Schneider managed to tally 40 points despite being largely used as a defender before suffering a season-ending injury with only a dozen games left.
“Of course, we’re disappointed right now,” Simpson continued. “But look at other clubs. They can only dream of our successes and our professional approach. We’ve had three great seasons since the franchise was installed in 1999.”
The Barons shocked the league by winning the DEL championship in their inaugural season 1999/2000, upsetting the highly-favored Kölner Haie in the finals. Munich returned to the finals last year but was downed by Mannheim in four games.”Time for a change"
“Maybe the first era of the Barons is over now,” Simpson said. “A couple of guys will retire, others will change teams. We basically had the same team for three seasons. Now it’s time for a change.”
Captain Simon Wheeldon and Greg Johnston are expected to retire. Shane Peacock has signed with Cologne while defense partner Hans Lodin is heading back to Sweden. Top-scorer Derek Plante moves on to Switzerland where he will play for the Zurich Lions. Youngster Christoph Schubert (Nuremberg Ice Tigers), Johan Rosen and Alex Serikow (both Frankfurt Lions) are also headed elsewhere while key players like goalie Boris Rousson and center Peter Douris remain unsigned.
So Simpson, assistant Beppo Schlickenrieder and Max Fedra have a lot of off-season work ahead of them.