Hockey Canada Announces Coaching Staff for Beijing 2022 Olympics

Jon Cooper Team Canada Coaching Staff
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Today marks the first day since the closing ceremonies of the somewhat controversial 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Due to Covid-19 concerns, the games occurred this summer, in 2021, rather than in 2020 as its title suggests. Now, the Olympic chats transition quicker than usual to focus on the upcoming Winter Games. With only six months between now and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, many decisions are already being made. One such decision came out of Canada this morning, with the naming of the coaching staff for Team Canada and their men’s hockey team.

Hockey Canada Announces Coaching Staff for Beijing 2022 Olympics

The announcement may come as somewhat of a surprise, or feel a little pre-mature to hockey fans. After all, an official decision remains to be made regarding the NHL’s participation in the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. The NHL schedule for the 2021-22 season, released back in July, did include a break in February coinciding with the Winter Olympics. This preparation shows the league has an interest in sending its athletes back to the biggest international stage. However, reports also exist suggesting the NHL and IOC are struggling to reach a media rights deal. The IIHF and NHLPA must also agree to NHL player participation in the Olympics. In the past, though, players typically expressed a strong desire to represent their countries. This desire might not remain quite as high as it once was, given uncertainties with the pandemic.

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All that aside, Hockey Canada built a contingency plan for its coaching staff, assuming NHL’ers do in fact attend the Games.

Hockey Canada Coaching Staff

In their announcement, Hockey Canada named Jon Cooper the head coach for their men’s hockey team. Alongside him will be assistant coaches Bruce Cassidy, Peter DeBoer, and Barry Trotz. Needless to say, the team possesses quite a powerhouse coaching lineup.

Head Coach Jon Cooper

Leading the bench will be Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper comes off of the pinnacle of hockey success as well, having won not one, but two consecutive Stanley Cups. Known as an excellent player’s coach, Cooper connects well with his roster at every position. Players love playing for him, and he’ll look to bring that same energy and effectiveness to Team Canada.

Assistant Coaches Cassidy, DeBoer, and Trotz

To round out their coaching staff, Canada selected three other NHL head coaches to serve as Cooper’s assistants. Cassidy hails from the Boston Bruins organization, where he won the Jack Adams award in 2019-20 as the league’s top coach. He is the least experienced of the assistant coaching group, but still boasts seven seasons of head coaching experience. He fell just short of a Cup title in 2018-19, losing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Pete DeBoer brings 14 years of NHL coaching experience with him to Team Canada and twice fell in the Stanley Cup Finals just shy of a Cup. Those appearances came in 2011-12 and 2015-16, but today DeBoer manages the bench for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Barry Trotz currently coaches the New York Islanders but won a Stanley Cup in 2017-18 behind the bench for the Washington Capitals. He won the Jack Adams as well, both in 2015-16 (with the Capitals) and 2018-19 (with the Islanders).

What this Means for the Future

Ultimately, none of this will mean anything if the league doesn’t attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The coaches will remain with their respective clubs and complete the NHL season, instead. But, the fact that the Olympic break exists suggests otherwise. And now, with contingent staff announcements coming too, it feels more real than it did before.

Maybe this announcement in and of itself help pick up steam for the decision to be made. If fans start getting more engaged in the topic, if the NHL sees demand increase for players at the Games, maybe they will work harder with the IOC to iron out the details. The NHL won’t be forced into anything it feels is unfavourable though, either. They abstained from the Games in 2018 and won’t hesitate to do the same again if the circumstances don’t make sense.

And all of this won’t matter at all if the NHLPA decides against sending players to Beijing, anyways. This might be a stretch, as previously mentioned because players themselves typically highly favour playing in the Olympics. The opportunity only comes around once every four years, and that rare of a window means a lot of players only get considered for their country one, maybe two times. Aside from the most elite players in the game like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, four years is a long time to remain one of the best 18 to 25 players in your country. That’s even more true for countries like Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, or Finland, where the competition is strongest. But, this year the sentiments might be different due to the virus. If players feel differently due to those risks, they might opt out themselves.

 

 

Main Photo:

TAMPA, FL – MAY 11: Head Coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on against the Washington Capitals during the second period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)