VIENNA – The Austrian Ice Hockey Association named Alpo Suhonen its new sport director. He’s best known as coach of the Finnish national team and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Suhonen and the late Ivan Hlinka (Pittsburgh) became the first and so far only European NHL head coaches in 2000. In his long coaching career the 63-year-old was also leading several Finnish national teams from 1977 to 1986 including teams at four IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and the 1984 Olympic Winter Games.
Most recently Suhonen was behind the bench of Slovak club HC Banska Bystrica. He already met the top management of the Austrian Ice Hockey Association during the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Ljubljana – where Austria earned promotion to the Top Division – to talk about his visions for Austrian hockey.
“Looking at Finland, one can see that many things have been done the right way,” said Dr Dieter Kalt, the President of the Austrian Ice Hockey Association, about the choice. “Players and coaches are the most important element in our sport. We want to set up a professional education and development program in these areas.”