When the Vancouver Canucks gathered for training camp in September, it was expected that a few of them would be heading to the Winter Olympics in February.
Nobody thought Nolan Baumgartner would be the only one that ended up getting picked.
With the NHL pulling out of the Olympics, international teams have been forced to go with Plan B, both in terms of players and coaches.
That means finding talent outside of the best league in the world, which now includes Baumgartner, who was fired by the Canucks along with Travis Green, Jim Benning, and John Weisbrod on December 5.
Team Canada was planning to have a coaching staff filled with NHL head talent, with Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Jon Cooper serving as head coach, assisted by Bruce Cassidy (Boston Bruins), Peter DeBoer (Vegas Golden Knights), and Barry Trotz (New York Islanders).
Today, Hockey Canada named the replacements.
Longtime NHL bench boss Claude Julien has been named head coach. Baumgartner is one of three assistant coaches named to the Olympic team, as he’s being joined by former Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton, as well as longtime Hockey Canada coach and West Vancouver native Tyler Dietrich.
Shane Doan will pick the players as the team’s general manager. He’s joined on the management staff by senior vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager Scott Salmond and director of player personnel Blair Mackasey.
“We are excited to announce our experienced management group and coaching staff that will lead Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team at the 2022 Olympics,” said Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney. “With less than a month until the men’s tournament gets underway at the Olympics, we are excited to continue working with the entire staff as it prepares to represent Canada and build a roster that Canadians can support as it looks to bring home an Olympic gold medal.”
Canada won bronze four years ago in PyeongChang, an Olympic tournament that was also played without NHL players.
Doan’s task is to fill in the roster with Canadian hockey players playing in Europe and the AHL, as well as players in college or junior leagues.
A few former Canucks are reportedly being considered on Hockey Canada’s long list, including Jake Virtanen, Michael Del Zotto, Brendan Leipsic, and Adam Cracknell.
Port Moody’s Kent Johnson, along with University of Michigan teammate Owen Power, will make team according to a report from CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal.
“Shane, the entire management and the coaching staff have been working extensively to evaluate players and build a roster that gives us the best chance to compete for a gold medal, and we look forward to unveiling that roster in the coming weeks,” said Salmond.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics begin in three weeks, on February 4. Canada plays its first game of the men’s ice hockey tournament against Germany on February 10.
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