VIENNA – The Austrian Ice Hockey Association named Bill Gilligan as the head coach of its men’s national team.
President Dieter Kalt had nothing but flattery for his choice, “Bill is a Sir among hockey coaches. We are looking forward to a close and successful co-operation,” Kalt said. “He knows the players and the Austrian mentality.”
The American came to Austria in 1984 and led Klagenfurt to four championships in as many years. Later he coached in Switzerland, winning three titles in four years with SC Bern. He also earned fourth place with Switzerland at the 1992 IIHF World Championship and won the bronze at the 1998 IIHF World U20 Championship.
After six years as a college coach in America and an NHL scout, the 55-year-old returned to Switzerland in 2005 coaching the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers for two years.
He is currently head coach of Austria’s Graz 99ers, a position he’s held since 2008. The club will allow him to coach the national team while he leads the 99ers. He signed a one-year contract as Austrian national team coach.
Austria was relegated at the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland and announced that the contract with Swedish coach Lars Bergström would not be extended. The Austrians look to rebuild the team with the new coach and younger players to rejoin the elite nations.
Austria will play the 2010 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A in Tilburg, Netherlands, April 19-25 against Ukraine, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Serbia.