On the heels of some slightly more turbulent international hockey-related news, Hockey Canada announced today that Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will be in charge of Team Canada this spring in World Championships:
Hextall, who played in these very championships in 1992 and was part of the management team for the 2014 Canadian team that didn’t medal (awkward!), will take this honor to pass the spare time he now has with the Flyers being eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday. The tournament begins on May 5 in Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany, so he and the rest of his staff (which includes former Flyer Sean Burke) will have until then to pick their players among the league’s non-playoff teams.
It hasn’t necessarily been an easy year for Hextall, as for really the first time since he took over the Flyers’ GM role in 2014 some fans have called into question the work he’s done at the helm of the team. That’s not overly surprising, given the objective step back the Flyers have taken this year. Still, the fact that Hockey Canada believes Hextall is the best option available speaks to the overall job they believe he’s done in charge of the Flyers, and their trust in him to put a good team out on the ice for Canada as they go for a third straight gold medal.
A number of players on the Flyers’ roster all have some recent experience on Team Canada in World Championships, including Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them get chosen again, now that their own GM is the one calling the shots. (Then again, maybe it also wouldn’t be too surprising to see Hextall decide that he doesn’t want any of them playing more games this year. We shall see!)
This news comes hours after the NHL’s announcement that their players will not be playing in the Olympics next winter in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is a bad decision by the NHL, or at the very least one that comes at the dismay of many of its players who otherwise would go. It should be interesting to see how, if at all, that decision affects players’ willingness to play in tournaments like Worlds.
The full text of the press release from Hockey Canada regarding Hextall’s hiring is below:
CALGARY, Alta. – The first pieces are in place for Hockey Canada as Canada’s National Men’s Teamlooks to three-peat at the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany.
Ron Hextall (Brandon, Man./Philadelphia, NHL) returns to the management staff, this time as general manager of Canada’s National Men’s Team. Hextall was a member of the management group at the 2014 IIHF World Championship, and competed as a player at the 1992 IIHF World Championship.
Sean Burke (Windsor, Ont./Montreal, NHL) was named assistant general manager, while Scott Salmond (Creston, B.C.), Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations and national teams, and Larry Carrière (Montreal/Montreal, NHL), director of player personnel, round out the management group.
“These four gentlemen bring a tremendous amount of experience in hockey management and in international competition as we look to assemble the best possible team to represent Canada at the 2017 World Championship,” said Tom Renney, president and chief executive officer, Hockey Canada. “With the NHL regular season winding down, some very quick and smart decisions need to be made in regards to coaching staff and player selections; Ron, Sean, Scott, and Larry are prepared for the work ahead, and their collective knowledge and experience will be invaluable as Team Canada quickly assembles in preparation for its opening game on May 5.”
Hextall was named executive vice-president and general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the start of the 2014-15 NHL season, having rejoined the organization in 2013 as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. Prior to that, Hextall logged seven seasons as the vice-president and assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, where he helped the team capture the Stanley Cup in 2012. A goaltender during his playing career, he appeared in 608 games, amassing 296 wins, and helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final as a rookie in 1987, and in 1997.
Burke is wrapping up his first season with the Montreal Canadiens as a professional scout. His international experience in management with Canada’s National Men’s Team includes serving as general manager of the 2016 Spengler Cup championship-winning team, and two IIHF World Championship gold medals, as director of player development in 2016, and as part of the management group in 2015. He was also general manager of the 2016 Deutschland Cup. Burke is Canada’s all-time goaltending leader in games played (35), minutes played (1,991), and wins (21) at the IIHF World Championship – an event at which he won two gold and two silver medals in five appearances as a player. A two-time Olympian (1988, 1992), Burke won silver at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France, and is an IIHF World Junior Championship silver-medallist from 1986 in Hamilton, Ont.
Carrière joined the Montreal Canadiens as assistant general manager in 2010. Following a playing career which included full and partial seasons in the NHL in the 1970s with the Buffalo Sabres, Atlanta Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, and Toronto Maple Leafs, Carrière went into scouting with the Sabres in 1983, and was elevated to director of player development by the organization 10 years later, before being promoted once again to assistant general manager in 1995. In 2005 he took a role as pro scout for the Washington Capitals before joining Montreal in 2010.
Salmond has been with Hockey Canada since 2001, serving in his current position of vice-president of hockey operations and national teams since June 2014. In this position, Salmond oversees all operations of Canada’s national men’s teams for the Olympic Winter Games, IIHF World Championship, IIHF World Junior Championship, and IIHF U18 World Championship, as well as the sledge hockey program at the Paralympic Winter Games and IPC World Para Hockey Championship.
Canada opens the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany, against the Czech Republic on Friday, May 5, with preliminary-round games scheduled through Tuesday, May 16. The bronze- and gold-medal games will take place on Sunday, May 21.
Team Canada was undefeated at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic, and defended its gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Since 1931, Canada was won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champion. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.