The braintrust is in place.
In preparation for the first true best-on-best tournament in eight long years, Hockey Canada has officially named its executive team for the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues has been named the team’s general manager and will lead a group that also includes Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney and Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis, in addition to Olympic gold medallist Roberto Luongo and Hockey Canada’s Scott Salmond.
Armstrong has been a key piece for Hockey Canada at the last three major senior tournaments involving NHL talent — all of which were victories for Canada. Also the architect of the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, Armstrong served directly under Steve Yzerman (who has moved on from international duty) in Hockey Canada’s last three major international triumphs.
Holland, Sweeney and Francis do not have the same experience, at least in terms of international competition, but are among the most respected executives in the game. Holland is a three-time Stanley Cup champion in his own right, and did serve on the staff that won the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Sweeney has been one of the more successful GMs over the last few seasons, helping build and sustain the Bruins as a powerhouse. And Francis should be an invaluable resource, given that he’s been busy canvassing the league for talent in preparation for the Kraken’s expansion draft this summer.
Luongo is the most interesting addition. He was in net for arguably Canada’s greatest Olympic victory more than a decade ago at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The three-time Olympian transitioned into an executive role with the Florida Panthers since retiring in 2019 and figures to be an important resource when approaching the goaltending position, an area which could be considered Canada’s weakness.
There will be a tremendous amount of turnover on a roster that may only include a few returnees from the 2014 championship team in Sochi. Sidney Crosby and Carey Price are likely among them, but the 2022 Winter Olympics and the tournament itself will be defined by the vast collection of superstar players receiving their first opportunities to represent their country on the biggest stage.
For Canada those players include but are hardly limited to: Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Mat Barzal, Brad Marchand, Mitch Marner, Mark Stone, Cale Makar and Shea Theodore.
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