Mike Babcock named Canada's World Cup of Hockey coach
Julien, Quenneville, Trotz, Peters tapped as assistants
For all the coaching choices Canadian general manager Doug Armstrong had, he went back to the man with the two Olympic gold medals.
Mike Babcock was the "logical choice" to be Canada's coach at the return of the World Cup in 2016 because of his success in Vancouver and Sochi.
"Mike has the ability to be able to bring a group together quickly. He's done it obviously at the world championships, he's done it at the Olympics," Armstrong said Thursday at a news conference in Toronto announcing the coaching staff. "I think his record obviously speaks for itself."
Babcock led Canada to gold medals at the 1997 world junior championships, 2004 world championships and then the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. The current Toronto Maple Leafs coach won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
But Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks, with three Cups in six years on his resume, also garnered significant consideration. Quenneville will be an assistant on Babcock's staff but could've easily been the head coach.
"It was a two-horse race for me," Armstrong said. "I wasn't torn on the final decision, but I thought we had to give Joel Quenneville the opportunity for us to discuss him. You just can't get past three Stanley Cups in six years."
Knowing Babcock wouldn't work as well as Quenneville's assistant, Armstrong was glad to have those coaches working together along with Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals and Bill Peters of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Julien returns from Babcock's staff in Sochi, while Quenneville, Trotz and Peters are newcomers. Quenneville will run Canada's defence, Trotz and Julien will focus on special teams and Peters will be in charge of pre-scouting like Ralph Krueger was at the Olympics.
"We're going to have a great staff, there's no question about it, but so will the other teams," Babcock said. "They're all going to have great players. I think as we put on the uniform in Canada that we're going to win. It doesn't work like that. The preparation has to be equal to the opportunity."
Babcock's ability to prepare players for a short tournament gave him the edge. Armstrong said he talked to several players from the Olympic teams and they raved about the Saskatoon native's smart game plan and ability to implement it quickly.
The World Cup of Hockey takes place Sept. 17-Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto and includes Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Team Europe and the 23-and-under Team North America.
Each team must name a 16-man roster by March 1 and then the rest by June 1. Training camps are expected to take place in early September.