COPENHAGEN – The Danish Ice Hockey Association has named Janne Karlsson, 54, as head coach of the men’s national team. He replaces countryman Per Bäckman, who steps down after five years.
That a Swede would replace a Swede on the Danish national team was not a surprise. Denmark was led by Swedes Dan Hobér, Jim Brithén and Mikael Lundström between 1994 and 2006 before Canadian Mike Sirant’s two-season stint 2007-2008. After that, Bäckman was at the helm 2008-2013.
Janne Karlsson is one of Sweden’s most successful coaches during the last ten years. He was assistant to Bengt-Åke Gustafsson 2005-2006, thus contributing to Tre Kronor’s historic double gold at the Turin Olympics and the World Championship in Riga in the same season, 2006.
On the club side, Karlsson spent many years with Frölunda Gothenburg and he led the club to a national championship 2005 when he had to replace an ailing Conny Evensson midseason.
He later left for Linköping and HV71 Jönköping where he won another Swedish title in 2010. In 2011 he was hired by KHL’s Atlant Mytishi but was released midway through the 2012/2013 season.
It was clear that Bäckman would not continue after Denmark’s failure to qualify for the Sochi Olympics despite that the qualifying tournament last February was on home ice in Vojens.
Karlsson’s task will be to rebuild the team for the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus, Denmark’s eleventh consecutive appearance in the elite division.