Arno Del Curto has overcome many challenges during his 20-year tenure as the coach of HC Davos. This season he faces a new one: the two rookie goaltenders Joren van Pottelberghe (19) and Gilles Senn (20) need to replace the big Leonardo Genoni.
It took 42 years for Davos to end its Spengler Cup title drought in 2001. That is more than an eternity compared to the 5-year dry spell Arno Del Curto’s team is currently going through after their last victory in 2011. That a half-decade still feels like a long time is a good sign - a very good one in fact. Since 1998, when HC Davos first reached the playoff finals under their cult coach, the team has always been good for a surprise.
New goalkeeper duo
Of course, that will be so this year as well – although there are two big question marks in this year’s season preview: One is the uncertainty whether the new goalkeeper duo Joren van Pottelberghe (19) and Gilles Senn (20) can adequately replace Leonardo Genoni. Genoni, one of the best and most consistent keepers in this country, not only led the club to three championships and a Spengler Cup tile. He was also the team’s life insurance when the club radically built on the youth and fought with some difficulties. In 2007, when the two talented young goaltenders Genoni and Reto Berra were brought from GCK Lions to the Landwasser valley to compensate for the loss of Jonas Hiller, the experiment was successful. Time will tell if it will be successful a second time.
However, van Pottelberghe is likely to miss the Spengler Cup, as he will be playing at the U20 World Championships instead. For the last week of year HCD will therefore integrate another goaltender, who will probably only be named shortly before the tournament, into its team.
Resource management requested
The second question mark is the heavy workload, with which the young team is confronted. With the cup and, especially, the Champions Hockey League, the Davoser are faced with two additional competitions that require well-planned resource management. Last year showed how hard that can be, when HCD, after a good regular season and an excellent international campaign, was unable to muster up the energy to withstand the hungry SC Bern squad in the playoff semifinals.
Aside from the goalkeeper and resource issues, HCD has a very solid and especially well-rehearsed squad. There were few changes in the offseason; defenseman Samuel Guerra left for Zurich’s lowlands and the foreign players Marcus Paulsson, Devin Setoguchi, and Alexandre Picard were compensated by the Swedish defenseman Daniel Rahimi and the Czech forward Robert Kousal. So the chemistry, technical constellation, and subsequent play has remained the same: A large, heavy, and young defense to clean up in the defensive zone and open the play with a quick first pass, the four centres will offer support as two-way players, and the wingers will put the opponents under pressure with quick transitions. In short, typical HCD Hockey: fast, intense, and attractive.