Thompson on the Grand-Slam season
After leading the Coventry Blaze to a Grand-Slam championship in 2005, Paul Thompson told Antony Hopker for the Coventry Evening Telegraph that “respect was the key.”
An Ashley Tait goal in overtime against the Nottingham Panthers secured the Elite League Playoff trophy for the Blaze and completed a clean sweep of titles adding to their earlier Challenge Cup and Elite League Championship.
Thompson, who was named 2005 Coach of the year and later lead the Blaze to three further Elite League Championships and another Challenge Cup success said of his Captain’s historic goal;
“It was a magical moment from a magical player. It was a tight game, but I never doubted the result - what an achievement for the club and the city.
“I said to the guys in the round robin stage that Nottingham were our toughest opponents and they they proved that. It was very emotional seeing the delight among the fans. There were so many tears in the crowd, and I was so pleased to see how much enjoyment it brought to people.”
On the Grand-Slam team that he had assembled and the season itself, Thompson commented;
“Everyone had the same respect for each other, and that was important. Whether it was Nathaniel Williams or Adam Calder, everyone was treated the same. I’ve never known a dressing room like it. If you were there five minutes before face-off you wouldn’t believe the amount of mickey-taking that went on. A few years earlier I’d have put a stop to it. But that was their way of relaxing, of dealing with the tension.
“By bringing in younger guys we didn’t have that experience in the room. But they matured quickly. I settled on my lines early on. I might have tinkered during games to shake things up a bit, but you don’t change something that’s working.
“At the start of the year everything was new. I had 12 new players at training camp, and they had to learn new systems, new plays and get used to new surroundings.
“But they bought into that system. I don’t know if I had the best players in the league, but it’s how you come together as a team that’s always important, and that group really did that.”