By Shawna Holm
Hockey Canada, along with Steve Yzerman, General Manager for Canada’s National Men’s Team, announced the coaching squad and five official players for the 2007 IIHF World Men’s Championship to be held in Moscow, Russia from April 27 to May 13.
At the MTS Centre press conference on Tuesday evening, Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said: “I don’t think there’s a better way to start off the World Women’s Championship here in Winnipeg. It’s great to have both our men’s and women’s teams being introduced in this fashion.”
Yzerman, who recently retired after captaining the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cups, officially announced that Andy Murray of Souris, Manitoba, currently the head coach of the St. Louis Blues, has been named head coach once again for Team Canada. Murray led Canada to IIHF World Championship titles in 19.
Alongside Murray will be Mike Johnston and Gerard Gallant as assistant coaches. Johnston, originally from Dartmouth, NS and currently with the Los Angeles Kings, is a former head coach and the GM for Canada's National Men's Team from the 1998-1999 season. Gallant is a former teammate of Yzerman with the Detroit Red Wings.
“We’re excited,” said Yzerman, 41, born in Cranbrook, BC. “It’s a great group, and we’re a few weeks away.”
Jacques Martin, the Florida Panthers’ head coach and general manager, will be Team Canada’s assistant general manager for the Men’s Worlds.
So, why Andy Murray for head coach?
“Mostly for his international experience,” says Yzerman. “It’s always struck me about Andy’s teams, that they’ve always been well prepared. I’ve always admired the way his teams played.”
The first interaction between Yzerman and Murray was in Nagano for the 1998 Olympics. Yzerman played for Canada that year, and Murray was part of the coaching staff.
“To be associated in any way is truly a privilege,” said Murray via teleconference. “It’s a unique tournament, and it’s tough to win. I’m really excited about it and see it as a great challenge.”
Murray’s mother and brother came out from Brandon, Manitoba to be in attendance Tuesday evening.
Yzerman and Johnny Misley, Executive Vice President of Hockey Canada, presented Florence Murray with a pink jersey from Hockey Canada to show appreciation for her being a supportive parent throughout Andy’s career.
Yzerman also announced the first five players named to Team Canada. Dwayne Roloson of the Edmonton Oilers, Eric Brewer of the St. Louis Blues, Mike Cammalleri of the Los Angeles Kings, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes, and Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets are part of Canada’s line-up for the upcoming World Championship.
Yzerman said he’s really enjoying his new role thus far: “I’m really learning about the role of the manager and how to put a team together. The one thing that impressed me about the GMs on the phone was how respectful they were to players even when they were finding faults in the players.”
“Regardless of who’s around, I think we should be able to come up with a very competitive team,” said the longest-serving captain in NHL history.
In the next couple of weeks, Yzerman plans to talk to more players, but in the meantime, he reflected upon being in Winnipeg again for the first time since the former Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
“Every Canadian city we go to, there’s a buzz in the city,” said Yzerman. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here.”
With a lot of respect for the women’s team, Yzerman noted: “One thing that always impresses me about the women is how seriously they take the game. That was an eye-opener for me back in ’98.”
Yzerman, who helped lead Team Canada to their first Olympic gold in 50 years in Salt Lake City, gave some closing advice for Team Canada going into the tournament here in Winnipeg: “I think at the start of the tournament, regardless of how it goes, you don’t get overly excited if things go real well in your first game. And if you struggle, stick with it.”
You never know exactly how a hockey tournament can turn out, as Yzerman observed about his Olympic experiences: “You know, in ’98 we came out and played great and didn’t win, and then in 2002 we struggled out of the gate and won.”
“Conserve your energy and try to keep an even keel because you will face some adversity along the way and it’s never as easy as you hope it’s going to be,” Yzerman said in his message to the Canadian Women’s Team. “Just take it one game at a time. Don’t get too carried away one way or the other after the first game.”
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