DETROIT – Last week the NHL agreed to send its players to the Olympics for the fifth straight time.
On Monday afternoon, Hockey Canada announced that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will lead their coaching staff as Canada tries to repeat as gold medal winners for the first time in more than 60 years.
Babcock will be joined behind the Canadian’s bench in Sochi, Russia, by Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and Claude Julien. Hitchcock and Ruff were on Babcock’s staff for the Vancouver Games in 2010. Julien replaces former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, who was part of the 2010 staff.
“Canada’s coaching staff has a great deal of international and professional experience for the challenge that awaits us in Sochi,” said Steve Yzerman, Hockey Canada’s executive director. “Mike did a great job setting the foundation for our gold medal win in Vancouver, and I know that with Ken, Claude and Lindy working with him, our team will be very well prepared.”
The 50-year-old Babcock is the only coach to enter the Triple Gold Club, having led the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup as well as Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal and an IIHF World Championship in 2004.
The Russia Games will be the fourth time that Babcock will coach a Canadian team on the international stage. He becomes the third coach to led Canada to multiple Olympics, joining Dave King (1984, 1988, 1992) and Pat Quinn (2002, 2006).
“I am extremely proud to represent my country and coach Team Canada,” Babcock said in Canada's press release. “To have had the opportunity to share the Olympics with family, friends and all Canadians in Vancouver was something very special. To win gold in Canada was a dream come true. In February, we will have a whole set of new challenges with a new group of players and staff. I am very excited to be working with Claude, Lindy, Ken, the management group, support staff and players to defend our Olympic gold medal.”
Canada will open the 12-team Olympics tournament against Norway on Feb. 13.
Hockey Canada also confirmed there will be a National men's team orientation camp from Aug. 25-28 in Calgary.
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