Delaney Collins was the type of player who could bring hockey fans out of their seats.
A great skater, a phenomenal puck-handler and playmaker, Collins is considered among the greatest defencemen to ever wear the Maple Leaf for Canada’s
National Women’s Team.
Perhaps the worst part of Collins’ playing career is that it didn’t last longer, with injuries leading her to retire from playing competitive hockey in
2011 after an 11-year career with Team Canada.
But that doesn’t mean she left the game behind.
“In 2013, Hockey Canada asked me to coach the development team,” says Collins. “It was really great. Some of the girls I was coaching, I had played with. I
figured that if I could coach the girls I played with, I could definitely make it a profession. I have really enjoyed my experiences.”
This week, Collins is back in Calgary as an assistant coach at Canada’s National Women’s Development Team selection camp. The camp, part of Hockey Canada’s
National Teams’ Summer Showcase, brings together 43 of the nation’s top prospects. The players are competing for spots on the roster that will travel to
Lake Placid, N.Y., for a three-game series later this month against the United States’ under-22 select team.
It’s Collins’ third stint as a coach with Team Canada.
As she mentioned, she first joined the national team staff in 2013-14. Last season, Collins was an assistant coach with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18
Team and helped Canada win silver at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship in Buffalo.
“Coaching the U18s last year is one of the best memories of my life. It is one of the greatest experiences of my life,” says Collins, who has also been an
assistant coach with Mercyhurst University’s women’s team since 2011. “I’m still disappointed that we lost. It’s a good thing from a coaching perspective
to learn from that and, hopefully, grow and get better and continue to help make Hockey Canada better.
“It was absolutely amazing to coach in a world championship after having played. You know what you’re coaching for and you know that you want to win a gold
medal and you want to be a part of it. I’m still hungry for another opportunity like that because it was such a great experience.”
As a player, Collins competed in five IIHF World Women’s Championships, winning gold three times, including in 2007 when the Pilot Mound, Man., native got
to play in front of family and friends during the world championship in Winnipeg. Collins, who was named Manitoba’s top female athlete in 2007, started her
tremendous international career with Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team.
That playing career gives Collins a great sense of what the players are going through during high-stress times like selection camps and world
“For the most part, I’m relaxed and detailed as a coach,” says Collins. “But I do get very intense when the moment calls for it. The girls that I’m
coaching, they need to know that we’re not constantly on them or that everything is constantly intense. And that there’s an opportunity to relax and absorb
information, learn from it and build that team chemistry. But then there’s also that time where the job has to get done and it calls for a lot of
intensity. (My coaching style) is a combination of those two things.”
Collins and the rest of Team Canada staff will name a final roster for Canada’s National Women’s Development Team at the conclusion of camp on Aug. 16. The
group will play three games against the Americans between Aug. 19 and 22.
After that, Collins will head back to Erie, Penn., to try and help Mercyhurst build towards another appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. Mercyhurst has gone
99-33-11 and has made two Frozen Four appearances since Collins joined the staff in 2011.
Collins is also on the verge of completing her master’s degree in organizational leadership.
The self-described “recreational athlete” also likes to spend time staying active.
“It’s kind of funny,” says Collins. “I’ve gotten away from (playing) hockey all together. I really like cycling and playing tennis and things that are
quite a bit different than hockey.”
In late December, Collins will re-join Canada’s National Women’s Development Team as it competes in the 2016 Nations Cup. Canada will face off against
national teams from Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland at the event in Fussen, Germany.
Collins has dreams to stick with coaching and build towards the highest level.
“I love being a part of Hockey Canada’s organization,” she says. “The highest level here is the Olympic/world championship level. That would be a dream of
mine. It’s something that I would like to pursue. Having said that, I’m just grateful for any opportunities that are given to me. It’s been such an honour
to work with the program for the last three years.”