Willie Desjardins to lead men's Olympic hockey team for Canada

Frederick Owens
July 26, 2017

In what will nearly certainly be an AHL vs. KHL torunament, Canada might not actually be the favourites at the Olympics for the first time since 1998 Nagano, when National Hockey League players were first permitted to represent the country at the tournament.

The pair are no strangers, as their relationship dates back almost four decades to when King coached Desjardins at the University of Saskatchewan between 1979 and 1984.

"The faces on our Team Canada rosters may be different than in previous years, but the expectations will be the same; 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". Burke's global experience includes his work as assistant general manager for Team Canada at this year's IIHF World Championship. A goaltender as a player, he enjoyed an National Hockey League career spanning 19 seasons.

Former Canucks coach Willie Desjardins was announced today as Team Canada's coach for the Olympics. He was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 2009 World Juniors, where they won the gold.

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Outside of the NHL, Desjardins has extensive coaching experience.

Among them is Desjardins, the former coach of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

It was reported on Tuesday, via Sportsnet's John Shannon, that Burke and Desjardins will head up the 2018 Winter Olympics roster for Team Canada this coming year, fighting what's likely to be a significant uphill battle to help the team defend their gold medal from the 2014 games in Sochi. "The goal is always to field the best possible team in all upcoming competitions, including this February when we hit the world's biggest sporting stage in Pyeonchang".

As Canada moves down the path without their NHL stars, Desjardins and Burke are expected to build a roster comprised of players with past-NHL experience, some now playing in professional leagues like the AHL, Russia's KHL, plus other European leagues in Sweden, Switzerland and Finland.

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