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"I hope Munich can win it"
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März 21, 2002; 18:13
"I hope Munich can win it"
Triple championship coach Nethery on the playoffs
Frank Johne

Nethery on Barons netminder Rousson: “If he gets on a roll, he can win the title on his own”

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Munich, Germany - When the DEL playoffs start Friday, the most successful coach will only be a spectator. For the first time in the league’s eight year history, Lance Nethery won’t be a part of the DEL postseason. The man who guided Mannheim to three straight titles and Cologne to the finals, got axed by the Haie before the Olympic break. In a exclusive, the 44-year-old Toronto-native talks about coaching in the playoffs and reveals his keys to winning the cup and his personal title favorite.

Three-time champion Lance Nethery reveals his keys to success
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005) Mr Nethery, you led Mannheim and Cologne to seven straight playoff appearances, winning three consecutive DEL championships with the Adler between 1997 and 1999. Most of the players know that it’s time to step up when the postseason starts (or at least they should). Can a coach “step up”, too? In other words: What adjustments can a coach make come playoff time?

Lance Nethery: The big difference in the playoffs is that the team is playing the same team at least three times and likely more. This allows coaches spend a great deal more time on how the other team plays and what adjustments are needed to be made to win games. As the series progresses and each team adjusts, then it is necessary to adjust game to game. The prep work for a coach in the playoffs can be very time-consuming especially if the break between the series is very short. Some of the teams have been struck by late injuries. Your former team Cologne has lost veteran Dave McLlwain, Mannheim will be without its thriving youngsters Dennis Seidenberg and Marcel Goc and Munich very likely has to get along without Andy Schneider, one of the best two-way players in the league. Apart from being lucky enough to stay healthy from this point on, what are the keys to a successful playoff run in the DEL?

Lance Nethery: Besides the injuries, the goalies will play a major role in who wins each series and eventually the championship. Normally the teams with the better goaltending win the series. The power play and penalty killing units also play a major role in being successful. Last year as an example Mannheim’s powerplay caught fire in the playoffs and I believe was the key to them winning the cup. In round one, the top-seeded Munich Barons will take on the Augsburg Panthers (8th), defending champion Adler Mannheim (2nd) plays the Berlin Eisbären (7th), the Krefeld Pinguine (3rd) face-off against the Kölner Haie (6th) and the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (4th) and Kassel Huskies (5th) meet in a rematch of last year’s first-round series. Do you see any chances of an upset?

Lance Nethery:.The chances of an upset in the first round are usually greater than later in the playoffs. Köln (Cologne) last year (was swept by Hanover), Mannheim went five against the Caps and the year Munich won it (2000), they nearly went out in the first round against Frankfurt. At least one higher seed will lose to a lower seed, the question is who. As a coach I always hoped it was not our team. Last year it was. There’s been a poll among DEL coaches: Mannheim, Munich and Nuremberg were mentioned as serious title contenders. Nobody seems to have Krefeld on the list anymore, the team that dominated the league for so many weeks and that struggled a little down the stretch. But they still finished third and clearly are the offensive powerhouse of the league, led by the likes of Brad Purdie, Christoph Brandner and Patrik Augusta, who have an amazing 185 points between them…

Lance Nethery: Offense does not win championships. Defense does. Krefeld has two good lines but often the third and fourth lines make the difference and they are not as deep as the other top teams. Speaking of one of the top lines in the league - if you could choose a certain player, line or unit from all the playoff teams, who would it be?

Lance Nethery: Tough one. I would choose Rousson. If he gets on a roll, he can win the title on his own. Do you have a personal favorite to win the championship?

Lance Nethery: Sean Simpson (the head coach of the Munich Barons) and I are friends. I always cheer for my friends and I hope Munich can win it. What do you personally do at the moment? Are you still involved in hockey in any way?

Lance Nethery: At the moment, I am the personal chauffeur for my daughter. She plays basketball here in Bonn for the girls Telekom team and I am learning my way around all the gyms in this area. I have, in the last eight years in the league, not had the opportunity to spend enough time with my family. I am trying to make that up at the moment. When are we gonna see you behind the bench again?

Lance Nethery: At the moment, I am enjoying early retirement too much to have given it a lot of thought.

After playing college hockey for Cornell, Lance Nethery started his pro career with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL in 1978. As an NHL rookie, he appeared in 33 games (11 G, 12 A, 12 PIM) with the New York Rangers in 1980-81. The center also participated in all 14 postseason contests that year, tallying 5 G, 3 A, 9 PIM before being swept by the New York Islanders in the semifinals.

Nethery appeared in five more games for the Rangers the following year and three for Edmonton (2 A, 2 PIM). He finished his playing career in Switzerland in 1990 after stints with HC Davos (1983-1988) and SC Herisau. Before pursuing his career overseas, Nethery had also played for Wichita Wind (CHL), the Springfield Indians and Hershey Bears (both AHL).

The then 33-year-old also started his head coaching career in Switzerland before getting an assistant role with Germany’s EV Landshut in 1993. In 1994-95, Nethery assumed head coaching duties with the Mannheim Adler of the DEL. He led the team to the playoffs five straight times, culminating in three straight DEL titles from 1997 to 1999. The following year, Nethery returned to the DEL finals, this time with the Kölner Haie, but got stopped by the Munich Barons. He resigned after the season to take over as GM, but returned behind the bench during the campaign and led the Haie to the postseason again. After renewing his contract during the offseason, his highly-touted 2001-02 team fell into a deep mid-season slump, though, and the 44-year-old got axed in late January despite being headed for the playoffs again.
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