Thursday, 17 March 2011

Canada Announces Brass

Hockey Canada made an nouncement today as the governing body for all things Canadian hockey showed off their picks for the management team for this year's World Hockey Championships taking place from April 29 to May 15 in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia. Picture to the left are two of the three men that Hockey Canada has selected to oversee their entry in the World Championships. Dave Nonis of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks, and former player Rob Blake of the NHL's hockey operations department will piece together the squad from those NHL teams who will have early tee times.

Normally, there is no need for me to report on the management team named for a major tournament because they rarely have any impact on how the games are played and the outcomes in those games. This case is a little different, though, so I want to discuss a little about the selection of these three men.

Dave Nonis is well-versed in the teachings of Brian Burke, the man who put together the US Olympic team that won the Olympic silver medal last year. Nonis has been the GM of the Vancouver Canucks, and has served in executive roles with both the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. In each of these cases, Nonis has found himself with a team that needs some toughness and grit, and has gone about adding grit to the already-present skill on his squad.

Bob Murray is the GM of the Anaheim Ducks, and played for 15 seasons as a defenceman with the Chicago Blackhawks. Murray was a rugged, hard-nosed defenceman who always brought his lunch pail to the rink. As a GM, Murray has continuously replenished the Ducks with solid talent that can play a physical game. Murray hasn't shied away from having his team play a physical game in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and all of his players can take on a physical role if needed.

Rob Blake is no stranger to the international game of hockey, and has certainly served his country well in the past. He donned the red-and-white of Canada a total of nine times over his illustrious career, including the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics where Canada won the gold medal. Blake always played the game with a physical edge, using his large frame to routinely separate players from the puck, and had a cannon from the point.

There will be some very good players at Canada's disposal for this year's World Championships, so it will be interesting to see who agrees to wear the maple leaf for Canada. Some of the more talented players include Rick Nash, John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, and Jason Spezza, but there are also a number of players who can fill the physical role that the three men on the management team seem to endorse. These players include Adam Foote, Chris Phillips, Barret Jackman, and Evander Kane.

Canada should have a good blend of young and veteran players, as well as having equal parts talent and grit. In fact, I'm pretty sure Canada will have a lot of grit at this tournament if the management team follows its NHL blueprints. While Nonis, Murray, and Blake have a ton of experience at the NHL level, there remains to be seen of these three can translate that success into international success.

Hockey Canada is hoping they'll have no problem at all!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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