Canada Names Burke As GM, Desjardins As Coach For Olympics
Published July 25th, 2017
Canada has taken the first steps toward trying to win a third consecutive Olympic gold medal, only this time without NHL players.
Hockey Canada on Tuesday named Sean Burke as its general manager and Willie Desjardins as its coach for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, the first Games without the NHL since 1994. The United States and Canada face arguably the toughest challenge in preparing for Pyeongchang: Most of their top candidates play in North America, where leagues aren't taking an Olympic break next February.
Canada reached into its development system of executives to tab Burke for the head management job after he served as assistant GM for the 2017 world championships, GM for the 2016 Spengler Cup and Deutschland Cup, and director of player development for the 2016 worlds. Desjardins coached Canada's 2010 world junior team and assisted in 2009. Soon-to-be Hall of Fame goaltender and St. Louis Blues assistant GM Martin Brodeur will work under Burke.
After being fired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Desjardins gave up a chance to be an NHL assistant this season to run Team Canada for the first time since the 2010 world junior tournament. He'll be assisted by Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft.
"The faces on our Team Canada rosters may be different than in previous years, but the expectations will be the same," Hockey Canada president Tom Reney said. "With the addition of Sean, Martin, Willie, Dave, Scott and Craig, we have assembled some of the best hockey minds out there to help us meet those expectations of on-ice success."
USA Hockey has not yet named its management group or coaching staff. Former Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi and former Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma are the biggest names available, though this may not be another showcase for the old guard.
"I would help out in any way they saw fit, but I'm not throwing my hat into the ring or anything like that," Philadelphia Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. "There's another group of people coming up I think that are the direction that USA Hockey should probably go to. Some of the younger guys that are involved now with teams, like Billy Guerin and Chris Drury. Guys like that are the next wave of guys that need to take over, in my opinion."
Back-to-back Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Sullivan would be an easy pick to coach the Americans if the NHL were pausing its season to go to the Olympics like it did in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Like Canada with Woodcroft — who coaches Geneve-Servette HC in Switzerland — the U.S. might have to get creative by dipping into the college ranks, as it will with its roster.
Canada has already put together an initial roster and will play in five tournaments between now and the start of the Olympics on Feb. 9. Notable players playing in two Russian exhibition tournaments in August include former NHL goaltenders Ben Scrivens, Kevin Poulin and Justin Peters, defensemen Kevin Klein, Cam Barker and Carlo Colaiacovo, and forwards Ryan Garbutt, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, Gilbert Brule, Linden Vey, Max Talbot and Daniel Paille.
Vice president of hockey operations Scott Salmond said Canada will have a team at a Sochi tournament next month, the Karjala Cup in Finland in November and the Channel One Cup in Russia and Spengler Cup in Switzerland.
A USA Hockey spokesman recently said the U.S. had no plans to play exhibition games before the Olympics. That's at least in part a result of how the U.S. is expected to build its team, leaning more on the college ranks while Canada will be mostly full of veteran playing in Europe.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno .