Hungary with Constantine to Tampere
by Martin Merk|22 JUL 2022
After a successful first season with Hungarian club team Fehervar AV19, Kevin Constantine was hired to coach the Hungarian men’s national team as well.
photo: Andreas Robanser
Two months after promotion to the top-level 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation set the course for its men’s national team by hiring a new head coach.

Kevin Constantine will lead the Hungarian men’s national team and signed a two-year contract with an option for a third year. He will succeed Sean Simpson, who was coaching the team for the past two seasons and led it to the top division with a second-place finish at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in neighbouring Slovenia.

Constantine, 63, started working in Hungary one year ago as head coach of Fehervar AV19, the Hungarian club that plays in the Austria-based cross-border league ICEHL. In his first year he wrote history with the club leading it to the playoff final it eventually lost to Red Bull Salzburg following a third-place finish in the regular season. It was the first time since joining the league in 2007 (then called EBEL) the club had made it further than the quarter-finals.

For the former NHL head coach of the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils it will be the first international stint since the native of International Falls, Minnesota was coaching the United States at the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship. However, during the past 12 years he collected a lot of experience abroad coaching club teams in France, Switzerland, Korea, Poland and since 2021 in Hungary.

He will continue his job at Fehervar AV19 and additionally work as head coach of the Hungarian national team thus coaching many Hungarian players in the double function. In this year’s national team that earned promotion five players were from Fehervar AV19 while the remaining players played either abroad or for teams in the Hungarian-Romanian Erste Liga.

“This invitation is a huge honour for me,” said Constantine remembering his three World Juniors participations as a coach. “Not everybody is given the chance to manage a national team. I consider it a great opportunity and thank those people who believe that I can help the Hungarian national team.

“I would like to make Hungarian ice hockey stronger and better than when I started the job. I want that fans coming to our games will feel that the national team is important to the players, that they want to work hard and fight. I can’t promise victories but I hope that we will have a share of victories and I believe that we can win and that whoever sees us says that this team works very hard, is very competitive, fights as a team, loves the game. I hope this is how we will look when we represent Hungary on the ice.”

The Hungarian men’s national team will play at the top-level World Championship for the third time in recent history after 2009 and 2016. Hungary also played at eight World Championships and two Olympic Winter Games between 1928 and 1939 as well as the 1964 Olympics. The best finish came at the 1937 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship when Hungary beat France and Poland and tied Czechoslovakia 0-0 in the placement games to finish fifth.

Both at the 2009 Worlds in Switzerland and 2016 in Russia the team finished last in its group and was relegated even though in 2016 the Hungarians wrote history with their first win in top-level men’s ice hockey since 1939 by beating Belarus 5-2.
In the tentative groups for the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship the Hungarians are seeded in Group A in Tampere with defending champion Finland, Sweden, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, France and Austria.

The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will take place from 12 to 28 May 2023 in Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia.