The Buffalo Sabres might not be playing playoff hockey this year, but their fans will have another reason to bond with Latvia as their national team could possibly have two Sabres on the team. While Zemgus Girgensons is a question mark, Tom Coolen will be working with the team as the assistant coach.
Weeks ago, rumours broke that Team Latvia is looking for another assistant for their coaching staff. Some speculated that Ted Nolan was going to make his return, this time as an assistant coach, until the president of Latvia Hockey Federation Kirovs Lipmans stated that Tom Coolen is the North American specialist who will assist the team’s new head coach – Aleksandrs Belavskis. Lipmans called a board meeting to discuss Coolen’s possible signing and after a vote it was decided – Tom Coolen will make his return. He is scheduled to arrive on the 13th of April, not long before the Euro hockey challenge games against France.
The 61-year-old Coolen has worked as a coach for over 30 years, managing both junior and adult teams in North America and Europe. He has been the assistant of the Latvian national team since 2012, has participated in two World Championships, the Olympic Games and the qualification of the games.
This season he is an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres, working with former Latvian national team head coach Ted Nolan.
You can draw lines between the Sabres and Team Latvia – Chris Stewart found out about being traded from the media, on live TV, the Latvian head coach found out that he will getting a new assistant from the media as well.
”Yes, I guess Coolen will be my assistant, Lipmans hasn’t mentioned anything about it, so I have to assume what I hear from media, Coolen will join my coaching staff”: Belavskis said.
Lipmans: ”Tom (Coolen) had interest to sign a multi-year contract, but it’s not as easy as we could imagine, Sabres didn’t make the playoffs this year, but they could do so next season.” Lipmans also pointed out that the head coach doesn’t have any experience at that high of a level so having an experienced assistant is really helpful.