ZOETERMEER, Netherlands – Barely a year after he was appointed, Larry Suarez has resigned from his position as head coach of the Dutch national team.
The resignation comes two weeks before The Netherlands will participate in the Olympic Qualification tournament hosted in Budapest with host Hungary, Lithuania and Croatia.
The American was disappointed with the working conditions made available to him and his squad, along with the preparation schedule for the tournament. “There’s too little ice time available and no exhibition games even though I had options available in Italy and Germany,” he explained.
Another cause for frustration was the fact that Suarez was to be evaluated after the Olympic Qualifier tournament instead of after the 2013 IIHF World Championship Division I Group B in April.
The Ice Hockey Association of The Netherlands (NIJB) was surprised by the sudden resignation of Suarez. “We understand that a coach wants to have the best possible preparation but for us it’s nearly impossible to plan training sessions and exhibition games during the regular season," said Technical Director Theo van Gerwen. "Our preparation is not any different than that of other countries.”
With practice sessions scheduled already, Van Gerwen had to act quickly to ensure there was someone behind the bench to lead the team. Today the NIJB announced they have assigned an interim coaching duo that will be in charge until the Olympic Qualifying games.
Former Team USA video coach and Team Denmark U20 head coach Barry Smith will join up with former national team player Chris Eimers. “On such a short notice this is the best possible solution,” said van Gerwen. “Smith has got ample tournament experience while Chris Eimers has coached nearly all current national team players at club team level in the past few years.” The pair will start the preparations as of Monday.
Minnesota-born Smith, not to be confused with his namesake and former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, is currently coaching the Tilburg Trappers and previously was an assistant coach of the Vancouver Canucks between 2002 and 2008.
Chris Eimers led Nijmegen Devils and Smoke Eaters Geleen to domestic titles in recent years and is currently in charge of the Friesland Flyers in Heerenveen.
With Suarez at the helm, The Netherlands captured a bronze medal at the 2012 IIHF World Championship Division IB held in Krynica, Poland.