The joy was visible on Harold Kreis.

Kreis smiled, Kreis laughed when he was presented as the new national coach by the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) on Monday in Munich.

"It's a huge pleasure and a huge honor that I will approach with respect, humility and team spirit," said the 64-year-old, whose contract with DEB runs until 2026.

And who now has the task of "permanently leading the German team among the top eight nations in the world", as DEB President Peter Merten put it.

That's not exactly small for a team that occasionally makes it into a semi-final or, like in 2018, even into an Olympic final, but just as often goes home after the preliminary round.

Of course, Kreis also knows this, and he was wary of grandiose forecasts on Monday.

He said he "took note of" the goals of the association's leaders, but whether it would be enough for the quarter-finals and the Olympic qualification at the upcoming World Championships in May in Finland, he left that open.

You never know beforehand which players still want to play for the national team after a strenuous club season.

Kreis and Sulzer the “top candidates”

This is likely to be difficult in the coming years, especially for overseas stars such as Leon Draisaitl, Moritz Seider or Tim Stützle.

He has not yet made contact with players, said Kreis.

DEB sports director Christian Künast will also be making the usual trip to North America for the sports director alone this year.

Kreis is still employed by the Schwenninger Wild Wings in the German Ice Hockey League (DEL).

And who knows if the team will make the play-offs and how far they will go?

Kreis only takes care of the DEB selection after the end of the season.

This also applies to the new co-trainer Alexander Sulzer, who works in Bremerhaven.

For Künast, however, Kreis and Sulzer were the “top candidates” for the task of fundamentally “making progress” with German ice hockey.

But Künast approaches it differently than his predecessors at DEB.

They recently relied on men who were at the beginning of their coaching career.

That was risky, but it worked because Marco Sturm and Toni Söderholm provided new approaches: Sturm gave the players the belief that they could also beat big opponents, while Söderholm developed them tactically.

But the DEB was a stepping stone for both of them: Sturm used the momentum of the silver medal and went to North America, Söderholm, who led the DEB team to the 2021 World Cup semi-finals, moved to SC Bern in Switzerland a few weeks ago.

Ice hockey music plays in the leagues.

Such a departure is not to be expected with Harold Kreis.

He has been in business for 45 years.

First in Canada, his country of birth, before he came to Germany at the age of 19 because busy Bundesliga managers were looking for Canadians with German ancestors to overturn the rule on foreigners.

For 19 years, the tough group held the Mannheim defense together, including 13 years as captain, won two championships and made 180 international matches for Germany.

In 1997 he switched to the coaching bench and won titles there too, especially in Switzerland.

He was also an assistant with the national team.

Most recently he trained again in the DEL, led the Düsseldorf EG back to the play-offs, now he's trying it with Schwenningen, a month before the end of the main round things are looking pretty good.

One of Kreis' greatest strengths is leadership.

The 64-year-old can quickly win over those around him, is polite and direct but never ingratiating, is eloquent but never elitist.

He always has his cabin under control with a mixture of clear rules and freedom.

Group dynamics is his topic, he gives lectures to people from sports, business and science.

How do I build a team?

How do I run it?

Alexander Sulzer is now helping him at the DEB.

The 38-year-old should bring in the Sturm Söderholm spirit of the past few years.

But the association is about more than just the national team, it's about the big picture.

So also about the offspring, who will not produce any new Draisaitl in the near future.

How is it supposed to go up there again?

There was no specific statement on this, but at least Harold Kreis gave an insight into his tactical ideas: He is by no means a defensive fanatic, his team should “play and not watch the opponent”.

He likes the recent development, especially the new "conviction and self-confidence".

This is how it should go on.

"Thinking against Sweden or Canada, hopefully it won't be too high?

The times are over."