In March, hockey coach Pavel Gross rejected an offer to take over the management of the Czech national team. Two weeks later, his club Mannheim, where he had been training since 2018 and with which he won the German title, dismissed him. Relations with management, which cooled after Gross’ coronavirus remarks, likely also played a role. He doesn’t know where the 53-year-old coach will go.
Are you watching more German or Czech playoffs now?
I am currently in Mannheim trying to watch both competitions. Like always. I’m already looking forward to the extra-league finals after a week’s break.
What do you say to the course of the playoffs of the extraliga and the composition of the final series?
Třinec and Sparta, they are really going to meet the two best teams in the competition. That’s right, both teams belong in the final. In my opinion, Sparta improved after Miloš Hořava arrived and now he is playing very well. I think it will be an interesting and very long finale.
In which country do you prefer to continue as a coach? Are you going to stay in Germany or go to the extra league?
I don’t know at all, I don’t really want to talk about it. On the surface, these are just such speculations. I really don’t know, I can’t say. I still have a two-year contract in Mannheim, although it is clear that I will not continue here. I still have a few things to settle, there is currently nothing in the negotiations.
Can you imagine leaving Germany after thirty years?
Everything is possible. Now I need time to recover from all this, to discuss what has been and what could be. Then I will make a decision. So far everything is open in the near future.
The call to Mannheim only came shortly after you reconsidered the Czech national team’s offer due to your presence on the club scene. How did you compare to that?
The way a coach compares to such things. You have to accept it, you have to understand the consequences when the team doesn’t play well. The boss has made his decision and I take it that way.
At the same time, the situation from the outside did not seem so critical. You and Mannheim fell to fifth place shortly before the start of the playoffs.
There’s no point worrying about it anymore. We coaches control what happens on the ice, not upstairs. I don’t want to look for excuses. I know we haven’t been playing well lately. For three and a half years we were almost always in first and second place, in recent weeks we have fallen to fifth place. And that’s how it is in Mannheim, they’re always just waiting for first or second place. As a coach, I couldn’t stay there with my team.
In the first season at Mannheim inverter you won the title three years ago. And vice versa, you can last long enough in such an ambitious environment.
Yes, but coaches don’t care how long they last. They want what the job is like. How the team works in training, how they play. To give adequate performance. I’ve been here almost four years, I’d love to continue, but those are just the laws of training.
How did you work for the Eagles team?
The requirements are high, the team is solid. I take it as a change in coaching activities, I take it as positives in my coaching development.
In December, boss Daniel Hopp was angry with you after a press conference in one of the matches, when you were annoyed that a player near whom a coronavirus infection had arrived could not enter. Have the relations between you cooled down?
One can imagine that it was not exactly pink. There are things that happen on the ice that happen off the ice. Not everyone needs to share a dominant view of certain things. Something happened, something was said, and it doesn’t interest me anymore.
Got a question, answered it, and didn’t expect what was next?
There were more questions in a few weeks. I no longer want to talk about what is and is no longer in politics. It is a pity that in the last two years only the prevailing opinion has been respected, nothing else has been taken. I don’t want to minimize or condemn anything, but there are people who have different opinions. Nobody cares.
In general, did you find the anti-coronavirus restrictions too strict?
If it was a restriction… In short, it was all fanaticism. But I don’t want to talk about it anymore, I won’t change anything anyway. I just look ahead.
Rude dispute with club management
In December, the management of the Adler Mannheim hockey club distanced itself from the statements of Pavel Gross after the winning match against Munich.
The coach reacted strongly to the journalist’s question why defender Thomas Larkin did not show up. “I guess you have to ask someone else. I’m still upset that he didn’t play, it makes me bile. I’d rather not talk about it,” Gross said.
According to media reports, the omicron coronavirus variant was suspected in the Larkin area. Club chief Daniel Hopp didn’t like the fact that the coach uses press conferences to express personal opinions. “These personal statements are a lack of respect for the values of the club and the management, which I have not experienced in this form,” he is indignant.
The DPA agency said that coach Gross is known for his critical opinions, which, for example, were aimed at the progress of the German league during the pandemic.
Do you continue to support what you refused to display in the Czech national team? That the daily work in a club suits you more?
Definitively. The dismissals also belong to the club’s coaching profession. I have to shake it. I don’t know yet what will happen next season, but I still like being on the bench and having contact with the team.
Do you think that in the future you will “mature” for the national team if the opportunity arises again?
I don’t know, it’s open. I can mature, but there will be no more interest. Coaching is about looking almost day to day.
Did you accept the offer as a reward for your work?
It was surprising, I really appreciate it. It was hard to refuse. I mean, it wasn’t Mannheim’s duel against the national team, but the feeling that I wanted to train the manchaft, live with it, prevailed. It is a completely different discipline compared to the national team.
What chances do you give Karim Jalonen’s Czech team?
I only take it positively, I see it as a solid decision. It is normal for someone to be for and someone against. But I think Kari Jalonen is an experienced coach and an expert. I don’t know assistants Libor Zábranský and Martin Erat that well, but they definitely have results and experience.
The model with a foreign coach worked for the Germans and Slovaks.
It’s true. Why would we still be in a shell? We should open up to the world and learn new things. Of course, we also have a lot of good coaches in the Czech Republic, but none have succeeded in the last ten years. We should not think that only we know everything. Let’s be open and maybe learn something new. Maybe it will come out right away, maybe next year.