The Nottingham Panthers have appointed Jonathan Paredes as head coach, with the 42-year-old hired to replace Corey Neilson behind the bench at the Motorpoint Arena.
Paredes arrives in the East Midlands after a successful period in his native France, which saw him named Ligue Magnus Coach of the Year in 2021-22.
The Frenchman boasts a wealth of experience in his homeland, headlined by periods inside the national team development programme and earning promotion to the top division with Cergy-Pontoise.
“Jonathan is one of the hottest coaches in demand at the moment and we are very excited to have secured his signature,” explained Panthers CEO Omar Pacha.
“I interviewed many coaches for this position, including some more experienced guys with extensive resumes, and Jonathan was the standout candidate and my number one choice. I spoke with dozens of coaches and players about Jonathan and the feedback was highly positive.
“What stood out was not only how highly-regarded Jonathan is by his former players, but how well they thought he was adapt to the Elite League.”
Added Paredes: “It is a big honour to join this great organisation. Many of my former players have told me great things about the club.”
Analysis: Nottingham Panthers make postseason splash with Jonathan Paredes appointment
The Nottingham Panthers cannot afford another lost year – which is the point CEO Omar Pacha laboured on Tuesday [18 April].
“After a disappointing 22-23 season, the time for talking is done,” he said. “I am extremely excited for the season ahead with Jonathan behind the bench and we will be doing our talking on the ice come September.”
Punchy – from a front office that just presided over a franchise-low finish in the Elite League and responded by hiring a lesser-known coach from the hockey hotbed of France.
Panthers Nation is divided over the appointment of Paredes, with a vocal chunk of the fanbase sceptical that the 42-year-old will succeed.
And – with memories of last season still so fresh – can anyone blame them? British Ice Hockey won’t, but we will offer a defence of the decision.
Paredes constructed an impressive record across his six seasons with Cergy-Pontoise.
He secured promotion to the top division, avoided relegation a year later, and subsequently coached the club to a pair of playoff semi-final appearances.
The 42-year-old was also named Ligue Magnus Coach of the Year in 2021-22, with thriving Elite League forwards Steven Owre and Ryan Tait on his list of former players.
“He has an incredible work ethic and demands a lot of his players but it is clear how respected he is,” said Pacha. “He is a coach that wants to play fast and score that extra goal. Jonathan is a coach on an upward trend in his career and I feel that his style of coaching will be a great fit for this organisation and league.”
Crucially, the Panthers have vowed to build a strong technical staff around Paredes.
“We will surround Jonathan with the right people to help him behind the bench, so that he has all the tools to achieve success with the Panthers,” added Pacha.
GMs – or, in this case, CEOs – rarely have three chances to appoint the right head coach.
Pacha has already burned through one selection, with Gary Graham’s stint ending in failure.
He needs to stick the landing with Paredes and will be judged harshly if this appointment backfires.
In Nottingham, a season of major significance awaits.