Mark French took over Medvescak's bench in the 2013-14 season.
Despite the announcement that head coach Mark French would be leading the bench of Zagreb's Medvescak in the KHL Championship for another season, he has now decided to accept an offer as head coach of Canada's Calgary Hitmen.
"Sometimes in professional sports there are unforeseen situations that come up along with decisions that are surprising and sometimes even shocking. We admit that we were all a bit shocked to hear about Mark French's departure and his decision to leave the club after the announcement that he would be leading Medvescak in the KHL Championship next season. It is our responsibility to keep steering this club ahead successfully, and as a result of this decision our sports team has to begin searching for a new coach to lead us through the next season. Fortunately, we have ample time ahead of us until the preseason and then the championship and we have no reason to doubt that our sports team will do a great job again'', said the club's head spokesperson, Ranko Vucinic, adding:
"Of course we are sad to be parting ways with this expert who has left quite a mark in our club's history, but Mark French is parting with Medvescak at his own will and by his own decision, and we have to respect that. Medvescak wishes him all the best in his future career. Details pertaining to the termination of the Contract and the coach's split from the club cannot be commented on in detail as they are confidential, but we can confirm that both parties respected their contractual stipulations with mutual satisfaction."
Mark French took over Medvescak's bench in the 2013-14 season. That was French's premiere season in the KHL, as well as for the Bears. The Canadian expert brought the Bears to the KHL playoffs in the first season (disqualified in quarterfinals). Under his direction, the Bears finished in a high 11th place out of 28 teams in the KHL, finished in 4th out of 7 in the Boborov division, and in 6th place in the Western Conference out of 14 teams. Aside from surprising everyone by making it into the playoffs and great performances throughout the season, under French's helm the Bears also broke the KHL debutant record which was set in 2008-09 by Dinamo from Riga (6 consecutive wins) by winning 8 games in a row.
Upon his decision and departure from Zagreb, Mark French answered several questions explaining the reasons for his decision, and thanked the club and fans for an incredible season:
How come next season you will no longer be Medvescak's coach?
"This development wasn't planned, and neither was the opportunity that presented itself. A surprise offer came, I sat down with my family, we talked and thought about everything and in the end, because of professional and private reasons, we decided to accept the offer. Going to another club wasn't planned, we were happy in our current situation, but since my professional ambition is to become an NHL coach, the opportunity to work with the Calgary Flames seemed logical both from a professional and private perspective.''
How much has this season with Medvescak impacted your development as a coach?
"Coaching a KHL team was both a personal and professional challenge. I was fortunate to work in a great organization with great management, great players, and a great coaching staff. I learned something from every individual I worked with. Coaching in Europe and the KHL has improved me as a coach, and also as a person.''
What will you remember Zagreb by?
"If there's one thing I'll remember about Zagreb, it's the fans. I'd like to thank them for making my stay in Zagreb so wonderful. They supported both the players and myself in a way that I haven't had the opportunity to witness, and I hope that they will be understanding of my personal decision that is both professional and private. I will never forget the friendship that I developed with them."
Medvescak's sports team, headed by director of athletics Aaron Fox and director of hockey operations Markoantonio Belanic, has already begun searching for a new head coach to lead Medvescak in the 2014-15 KHL season. The club will inform the media and the public of the new coach, the same as it does when announcing new players, only once the Contracts are officially confirmed.