Like last season, Lausanne HC has not achieved its objectives and is already leaving the play-offs at the quarter-final stage. The Lions are very far from being among the contenders for the national title.
In Fribourg, Christian Dubé – first sports director from 2015, then coach since 2019 – needed five good years before managing to build a team capable of coveting a national title.
In Lausanne, where Petr Svoboda has been leading the maneuver since 2020, the club started by doing things backwards: talking about the title before even having a team capable of seizing it. Then by building a group it is true very promising (that of the 2020-2021 season) to better dismantle it piece by piece in stride (Malgin, Jooris, Vermin, Moy).
Just like Dubé on his debut in Fribourg, the omnipotent Czech of the LHC also deserves his right to make mistakes. But now, like last season, his team did not meet expectations. Exit in the quarter-finals by the ZSC Lions last spring (4-2), it has once again measured the gap that separates it from the best teams against FR Gottéron this year at the same stage of the competition (4-1), the all after playing a mixed and unentertaining regular season.
At this stage and after two early eliminations in the play-off, Lausanne is far from being among the contenders for the national title: Zug, Fribourg, Zurich, but also Bienne and even Rapperswil, the rising star of the National League, are ahead of the LHC. None of these teams (although Zug’s financial might hastened the process), however, took shortcuts. All have bet on a certain continuity with a clear and well-affirmed game identity.
But perhaps the first question to ask is what is really more important in the short term. Is it a question of recreating a strong enthusiasm around the club, of putting on the ice a winning team which gives off a real identity of game and through which the supporters can identify themselves and especially have fun? Or is it simply a question of “selling” year after year a hypothetical championship title without worrying too much about the rest?
Regardless of the path chosen, many adjustments will have to be made quickly in order to bridge the growing gap which currently separates the LHC from the best teams in the League (Zug, Fribourg, Zurich).
The coach’s question
The first decision that seems to be necessary is that of the coach, despite Svoboda’s obvious attachment to John Fust, the current coach. After such a chaotic season, is the Canadian-Swiss still the man for the job to guide the LHC to the heights?
However, there are still a lot of pieces missing before this group can be considered a title contender: a higher-level foreign faction, more attacking talent, and above all a great goalkeeper with a future in front of the net.
Suffice to say that Petr Svoboda, who will certainly not miss the opportunity to brandish the usual excuses at the time of the end-of-season balance sheet (injuries, fatigue, missed Top 6 for a canceled match in Langnau, close scores in the play-off despite elimination, etc.) will once again go quite far. And a single summer will certainly not be enough to complete this project.
But there is still a positive in all of this: Petr Svoboda, who so much touted his famous “five-year plan” when he arrived in 2020, is still perfectly on schedule.