Schenk passes away
by Martin Merk|01 MAY 2020
Simon Schenk was the last coach to lead Switzerland to the top division at the 1997 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship B-Pool.
photo: Michael Kupferschmidt / Keystone
The Swiss ice hockey family mourns the sudden death of Simon Schenk. The former player and coach of the national team passed away on Thursday night. He was 73.

Schenk’s heart stopped beating during a heart surgery according to media reports in Switzerland. He has been battling with heart problems during the past three years and already had a surgery in 2017 but continued to work in ice hockey until this season.

As a player Schenk was on the ice for SC Langnau (now SCL Tigers) in the top Swiss league during 16 years and was one of the leaders on the historic team that won the only Swiss championship for the club in 1976. He spent his entire playing career with the club and represented Switzerland in 30 international games including the World Championship B-Pool tournaments in 1977 and 1978.

He ended his top-level career in 1980 and worked as a teacher while being a player-coach for third-tier clubs in his home canton before becoming the Swiss national team coach in the 1985/86 season. During five seasons he led Switzerland to promotion twice (1986 and 1990) and was also behind the bench at the 1988 Olympics.

After this span he worked as head coach of EHC Olten and soon later as head coach and sports director for SC Langnau before becoming again the Swiss national coach for two seasons (1995-1997) and earn promotion to the top-level Worlds for the third time in 1997 where the Swiss have stayed ever since. He was the last Swiss-born head coach of the men’s national team until Patrick Fischer took over in 2015.

Despite being a legend of the ‘70s as a player, Schenk is also well-known to younger fans across the country. Between 1997 and 2007 he was the sports director of the ZSC Lions Zurich after the clubs ZSC and Grasshopper Club had merged and was one of the builders of the teams that would bring championships back to Zurich after a long draught. Between 2007 and 2017 he would continue the same position for the club’s farm team GCK Lions and take care of the future stars for the club.

He remained visible in Swiss hockey until his last days as expert for sport broadcaster MySports.

Schenk was also active at the national level in politics. He was a parliament member in the National Council between 1994 and 2011.