SC Bern just dropped a bomb. It was expected that Alex Chatelain would be replaced as general manager sooner or later. As of next Tuesday, it will be former goalkeeper Florence Schelling that will take over. It marks the first that a woman will be general manager of a top men’s league.
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The highly-decorated Schelling is now in charge of the biggest teams outside the NHL. With more than 50 Million Swiss Francs in cashflow, and nearly half of that generated through hockey revenue, there will be a fair amount of pressure on her shoulders.
Who Is Florence Schelling?
Schelling was born and raised near Zurich. She has two older brothers, Philipp (35) who played for Lausanne HC and retired after 2018-19 and Nicolas (32) who never played at the top level. Nicolas was a forward and Philipp was a left winger who switched to defence with Lausanne.
At the age of four, Florence Schelling was put in the goal by her brothers. She liked that position and never looked back. She started at the junior level with the GCK Lions. She had tremendous statistics, and at the World Championship in 2008 in Harbin, China, she was the key player for the surprising 4th place Swiss team.
At that year’s championship, Dave Flint, coach of the Northeastern University Huskies, convinced Schelling to study there and play hockey for him.
Bronze Medal at the World Championship and Olympics
With the Huskies, she reached the playoffs for the first time in school history. After four seasons, she crossed the border to Canada and played for the Brampton Thunder of the now-defunct CWHL. At that moment, she had already played at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and at the Winter Classic in Fenway Park organized by the NHL.
In the years that followed, she won two bronze medals. One at the 2012 World Championships in Burlington, Vermont and another two years later at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Master’s of Science in Business Administration
After her North America adventure, she moved on to Sweden where she played for Linköpings HC. In Sweden, she finished her Master’s of Science degree in Business Administration and later moved on to the IIHF.
In her career, she was Swiss Ice Hockey’s Woman of the Year in 2007 and 2014, was Sweden’s runner up with Linköpings HC and received several awards in North America as Hockey East’s Goaltender and Co-Player of the Year.
Broken Neck After Ski Accident
Last year, Schelling broke her neck in February while skiing. She still needs some time to recover and will work the first few months part-time.
In Bern, she will face some huge challenges. There are two open import positions, a coach needs to be found and the team needs to get younger for the 2020-21 season. The whole team needs a good overhaul.
As asked by the Swiss media, Schelling said that she never second thought about the GM position. When she was contacted by Marc Lüthi, CEO of Bern, she was surprised. However, after a few meetings with Lüthi and sports director Rolf Bachmann, she was ready to accept.
When asked if former GM Alex Chatelain will help her, she said yes. “He knows the business and knows the players. I need his knowledge.”
And Lüthi pointed out that it doesn’t matter to him if the GM is a man or a woman. “We are living in 2020. So it does not matter if it is Florence or someone else who takes over. Gender doesn’t matter.” Even in Switzerland, that’s a huge compliment form the biggest club. And I’m pretty sure Schelling will make the right decisions and help move Bern forward. And last but not least, Schelling can handle the pressure. She has already proved it so many times in the past.
Since 1977 in hockey. referee for 15 years, since 2000 journalist. I did cover over 10 WJC, 10 World Championships and 2 Olympics (2006 and 2010) I was born in Berne where my home town club is. SC Bern is, outside of the NHL, the club with the most spectators. Every year they have about 16`000 per game.