The Bears have played 58 games this season, out of a total 60 scheduled in this KHL season. The playoffs, which have been hardly reachable for a while now, are officially out of reach after the Bears last game in the East. But, the season still isn’t over yet and if the fight the Bears displayed in the last two games is taken into account, the final two games will be interesting games in which the Bears will strive to win.
We started the season on the home ice of our Den and the club’s President Damir Gojanović led us into it. As we near its end, it’s only logical that we end in the same way. He revealed his impressions, summarized what can be done and gave a sneak peek of the plans for the next season.
For starters, how do you rate the season?
Really good. I’m happy. I wouldn’t tell the truth if I said that I’m not sad that we didn’t make it into the playoffs, but I can’t be unhappy with the season. We’ve watched excellent hockey this season, thanks to our new team.
How satisfied are you with the team in general? Is there anything you would’ve wished was different, or maybe something to which you have no complaints at all?
The team played excellent hockey, they’ve displayed unity, putting up a fight against much powerful and a lot more expensive teams, they that feeling of a true team, that will to give their all even when it was the hardest to do so. Of course, there were moments when morale was down, when they didn’t display their best, but they always came back and I was always positively surprised by them again and again. We have to be aware that it isn’t easy to follow the tempo of the league, the games, sports obligations, the obligations that the players have outside the ice and all they did, I thank them. Of course, the thanks go to everyone in the Club because if only one link wasn’t working properly, there would be no season.
There was a visible difference between this season’s team and last season’s. I’m happy with the way Glumac took the captain’s role and it was easily felt in the locker room, he showed the character of a true leader. He had excellent help from Perkovich as well and I’m sure that helped the unity and team spirit as well.
Are you disappointed with missing the playoffs?
I’m not disappointed! Not even close to it. I’m sad that we didn’t prolong the season with the playoffs, to feel the extra adrenaline that the playoffs bring. But I have no right to say that team didn’t give their all, the sports team once again did a good job, the coach trained and led the team well. I’m happy with the fact that we learn from our previous seasons, on all levels. I hear some comments about players leaving from time to time, that the team is crumbling before the end, how it’s an end before the end. Empty talk. It’s not the team crumbling of the team, the departures are responsible actions from our side (the club’s leadership) and they started happening when the playoffs were already hardly reachable The players leave to join other clubs to prolong their seasons, the new clubs take over their contracts which last until April or May, when we won’t be playing any more since we didn’t make it into the playoffs, but we would still have to pay our players. I hope for times when we will be taking over other clubs’ contracts.
What’s the focus for the next season, will most of the team stay together?
The season isn’t over yet so it’s too soon to talk about real plans and it’s impossible to say who’s leaving and who’s staying. Some players have an option to automatically extend their contract and we’ll talk with others, we’ll look for room to improve. I’m sure that we would be happy to keep most of this season’s players and to improve in the areas where we were weaker. Of course, it all has to be within our means with the sole goal of responsible leadership of the club.
Of course, it’s our goal now to confirm the cooperation with our sponsors, find new sponsors because you can only achieve as much as you have in the bank to improve our weaknesses. It will be hard, but we’ll try, we’ll try our best. Of course, the league needs to confirm our status in the league for the next season. We’ll wait until the season is over, because there is no surrender before the end, so we can officially close this season and open to next one with defining where we are and where we are going.
Coach Dwyer was focused on, along with results, building team identity. How happy are you with what was done and the possibility of him staying for the next season?
I don’t hide my wishes for coach Dwyer to stay. We haven’t talked about it yet, and it wouldn’t be right to do so before the season is officially over. I’m not the only one with a say it, naturally, the coach and his plans also matter, after all, he has a family. My colleagues in the club also have a say in it, everything is monitored and the opinion of fans and the sponsors is taken into account. The Club isn’t just me, or any of the above, the Club is all of us together. But, I’ll repeat myself, the decisions are considered and brought in accordance with our capabilities with the sole purpose of responsibly leading the club.
There’s always more questions to ask than there is time to answer them, while there are still many unknowns in this moment. As the President himself said “The season isn’t over yet, it’s too early to talk about concrete plans for the next season.” There will be time for everything else when everything is summarized at the end of the season in which the Bears showed that they are first and foremost a team and the team spirit can overcome almost anything, they fought until the very and gave us unforgettable memories.