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Hockey Coaches` Rivalry Lasts for More than 20 Years

Posted October. 02, 2009 15:30,   


Korea has just two professional ice hockey teams affiliated with companies -- the Anyang Halla, and High1. As archrivals, the two teams always see fierce matches at a level matched only by the rivalry of their respective coaches.

Halla coach Shim Eui-shik, 40, took over his team after playing for the squad for 11 years, and High1 coach Kim Hee-woo, 42, has been the team’s sole coach since High1’s inception five years ago. Both coaches have been rivals and colleagues for more than 20 years.

○ College years

The two coaches have known each other since college. Shim entered Yonsei University in 1988, while Kim joined Korea University in 1985. The two universities are traditional rivals in ice hockey.

Shim and Kim faced off as competitors at many championships, including the annual showdown between their two universities. Shim was a striker and Kim a defender, meaning the latter had to check the former.

The two continued their rivalry even after joining their respective corporate teams, with Shim saying, “I only played at Halla and faced off against coach Kim, who played for another team.”

The two said they expected their rivalry would end as players, but have seen it continue as coaches.

“I never expected I’d continue our rivalry for more than 20 years,” Kim said.

In the Asian hockey league, Halla leads the series versus High1 with 16 wins, one draw and 14 losses. The two split their six games at 3-3 last season.

○ From rivals to colleagues

Shim and Kim look as if they will remain rivals forever, but have also formed a close relationship as colleagues. In March, Kim was named head coach of the national team and Shim was appointed his assistant. Under their leadership, Team Korea was promoted to the top division for the first time in two years. The two coaches will continue their national team duty through next year.

Kim helped Shim get the Halla coaching job, saying, “Halla’s previous coach was a foreigner. I tried to beat Halla no matter what because I wondered why the team needed a foreign coach when Korea has many qualified coaches like Shim.” In the end, the foreign coach left after three years, opening the door for Shim.

The two coaches aim to advance to the playoffs of the Asian league this season. And attesting to their rival status, High1 and Halla will play each in the final regular-season match. Both coaches said it would be great if they advance to the semifinals.