Former Sheffield Steelers coach Paul Thompson backed to flourish in German DEL

PASTURES NEW: Former Sheffield Steelers' boss Paul Thompson, has been appointed as the new head coach of DEL side Schwenninger Wild Wings. Picture: Dean Woolley.
PASTURES NEW: Former Sheffield Steelers' boss Paul Thompson, has been appointed as the new head coach of DEL side Schwenninger Wild Wings. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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COACH Paul Thompson's previous experience of European club hockey will help him adapt quickly to life in the DEL, according to one of his former players.

Thompson was appointed as the new head coach of Schwenninger Wild Wings on Thursday - making him the first Brit to ever coach at the highest level in Germany. He inherits a team rooted to the bottom of the standings having won just two of their opening 17 games.

It represents something of a step up for the 53-year-old - who resigned as Steelers' head coach last month for 'personal reasons' - with the DEL deemed as being higher quality than the UK's Elite League.

Jordan Owens, one of Thompson's many summer signings for the Steelers ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, spent three years in Germany playing for the Fischtown Penguins, the last two seasons being in the DEL having gained promotion his first year over there.

He may have only spent a couple of months working under Thompson at Sheffield Arena, but 32-year-old Owens saw enough in that time to believe his former boss could potentially help turn Schwenninger's season around.

"Coming from the DEL myself I know first hand that it is a great league," said Owens, who has posted 10 points including five goals in 17 Steelers' appearances this season. "It’s a step up from the Elite League, but I think it’s a great opportunity for Thommo. I know that he has all of the tools to be successful there.

"It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not a challenge he should worry about - he should embrace it, he’s going to do a great job there."

Former GB head coach Thompson, of course, has prior experience of coaching in Europe, having spent a year at Swedish second-tier outfit Troja-Ljungby before spending the following campaign at Denmark's Aalborg from where he joined the Steelers in Spring 2015.

Owens also has a season in Denmark to his name after spending the 2012-13 campaign at SønderjyskE and believes Thompson's previous experiences of hockey outside of the UK will only help his cause.

"Experience is always a good thing, no matter what the situation," added Owens. "Him having experienced leaving the UK and coaching in some other countries is definitely going to work to his benefit.

THUMBS UP: Jordan Owens spent two seasons in the DEL with Fischtown Penguins, having helped the German club gain promotion in his first season. Picture: Dean Woolley.

THUMBS UP: Jordan Owens spent two seasons in the DEL with Fischtown Penguins, having helped the German club gain promotion in his first season. Picture: Dean Woolley.

"There’s a lot high quality players that play in the DEL, a lot of players who have had careers and good careers in the NHL, so it’s definitely a step up and he should expect to see some dedicated players. It’s fast-paced, physical and skilled - there’s a big checklist of things that are good about it.

"And Thommo is a coach who knows what he is doing. He has loads of experience and that will do him good out there."