LUGANO, Switzerland – Swedish coach Kent Johansson hasn’t talked about his future yet but his predecessor at HC Lugano did. The current HV71 coach may return behind the bench of Lugano where he was one of the most successful forwards in the club's history.
The HC Lugano management seems to enjoy getting back former idols. One year ago, they re-activated John Slettvoll, a four-time championship coach who was with the club from 1983-1996, and who quit coaching in 2001.
The 64-year-old wanted to help his old club. He almost led them to the playoffs after months of setbacks. Just one point was missing at the end but at least they won the first of three relegation series.
Now, Lugano is in fifth place but when Slettvoll asked Lugano about next season, the club confirmed the rumours which have circulated in the Swedish and Swiss papers. Next year’s coach will be another idol from the Grande Lugano era - Kent Johansson, today with Sweden's HV71.
“I asked the club management as I wanted to know too how far I can plan the next season,” Slettvoll said to Sportinformation last week. “They informed me openly that Kent Johansson has already been signed.”
Slettvoll decided on Wednesday night to resign as HC Lugano’s head coach.
Even though Johansson has just confirmed mutual interest and will only speak about his future in upcoming weeks, it was written that he signed a two-year contract. Clubs from the Russian KHL and Lugano’s domestic rival Rapperswil-Jona reportedly also made offers for Johansson, who is under contract with Swedish HV71 Jönköping until spring.
The 52-year-old, who led Lugano to three championships as a player in the ‘80s, has been successful as a coach in Sweden. Last spring, he won the Elitserien in his first season with HV71 after coaching Timrå IK for five years. Lugano showed interest in previous years.
After a bad start to the 2008-2009 campaign and only one win in four Champions Hockey League games, HV71 is currently in second place in the Swedish league.