Miroslav Satan (right), new General Manager of the Slovak national team, together with Slovak Ice Hockey Federation President Martin Kohut. Photo: Martin Merk
Legendary player takes over, looks for coach
The Slovak Ice Hockey Federation named Miroslav Satan as new General Manager of the national team and head of the national team program.
Satan was presented to the media in Bratislava on Friday. He signed a one-year contract with the federation with an option for another year. He replaces Robert Svehla and will also be looking for a new head coach. Most recently former player Zdeno Ciger has coached the team for the past two years.
“I’m glad that Miro has accepted our offer,” Slovak Ice Hockey Federation President Martin Kohut said. “We believe that this is the best solution for Slovak hockey.”
The man from Topolcany is one of the greatest legends of Slovak hockey in the modern era. He played in the top Czechoslovak and Slovak leagues for Dukla Trencin and for the Slovak men’s national team in its first editions after independence at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games and the 1994 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship C-Pool before moving to North America.
The 42-year-old spent 14 seasons in the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. With the Pens he won the Stanley Cup in 2009. In 2010 he moved back to Europe, played for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL and for Slovan Bratislava that played first in the Slovak Extraliga and then two years with Satan in the Russian KHL.
He represented Slovakia in four Olympic Games and in 14 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships (12 in the top division where Slovakia has played since 1996), was part of the team that won the only world title for Slovakia in 2002 when he was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and also won two silver medals (2000, 2012) and a bronze (2003). He was twice on the World Championship All-Star Team, in 2000 and 2002 when he led the tournament in points both times.
Now he returns to the national team in a new position and after tough years. Slovakia hasn’t reached the quarter-finals at the Worlds or Olympics since 2013 and finished the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in 14th position, lower than ever since moving up to the top level after the country’s independence. That’s something that Satan is here for to change.
“It’s quite a big job, it’s two positions combined, but it’s something that I’ll now try to do and help my own country, the team I used to play for a lot and care for a lot. It’s interesting new times and a big challenge to stabilize our hockey and hopefully improve it in a short time,” Satan said.
For Satan it’s the second experience managing a team in international ice hockey. The Slovak was the General Manager of Team Europe. The selection of European NHL players from other than the continent’s top-four countries (Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden) surprised the world by reaching the final of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto where it was eventually stopped by Canada.
The Slovak Ice Hockey Federation hopes to present the new head coach in the upcoming weeks. In the second half of August, two exhibition games are scheduled across the border with neighbouring country Czech Republic, on 23 August in Trinec and on 24 August at home in Zilina. In the November international break Slovakia will participate in the Deutschland Cup in Augsburg, Germany.
At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, Slovakia will face Russia, the United States and Slovenia in its group next February. At the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Denmark, Slovakia will play in the group in Copenhagen against Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, France and Austria.
Read on IIHF.com next week our interview with Satan about his new challenge.