P.E.I. natives selected to coach Team Canada at world hockey championship

·3 min read
Gerard Gallant, right, and Mike Kelly have coached together in the NHL and QMJHL. (NHL - image credit)
Gerard Gallant, right, and Mike Kelly have coached together in the NHL and QMJHL. (NHL - image credit)

P.E.I.'s Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly are teaming up behind the bench again, this time with Team Canada for the 2021 world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia.

Gallant, from Summerside, has been named head coach and Kelly, from Shamrock, will join him as an assistant coach.

The pair have coached together in the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers, and worked together in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Saint John Sea Dogs.

It's the first head coaching job for Gallant since he and Kelly were fired by Vegas in January 2020. One year earlier, Gallant won the NHL coach of the year award after leading the Golden Knights, in just their first season, to the Stanley Cup final.

Gallant said it didn't take him long to accept the new job when it was offered last week.

"It's a great experience," he said. "I've been out of coaching for a little while here so it's a chance to get back at it."

André Tourigny of Quebec, most recently the head coach of Canada's national junior team and head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67s, was also named an assistant to Gallant.

Gerard and Mike have worked together both at the NHL and junior level and have an understanding of what it takes to compete and win. — Tom Renney

"We are fortunate to lean on the professional and executive experience that all three gentlemen will bring as Canada gets set for the IIHF World Championship in Latvia," said Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada, in a news release.

"Gerard and Mike have worked together both at the NHL and junior level and have an understanding of what it takes to compete and win."

Except for the odd lunch date on P.E.I., Gallant said he hasn't seen much of Kelly during the COVID-19 pandemic and is looking forward to working with him again.

"He keeps me in line. He's not scared to tell me when I'm wrong and that's real important," Gallant said.

"It's a good relationship. Mike knows what I need and I know what Mike can do for me. So we work well together. We have fun every day and that's what's important to me."

Gallant was an assistant coach with Team Canada at the world championship in 2007 and 2017, winning gold and silver, and also served as an assistant coach with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Besides Florida and Vegas, he was also a head coach in the NHL for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

20 gold medals

Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times, not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games gold medallists were also considered world champions. Canada has also collected 13 silver medals and seven bronze.

The team will begin to take shape in the coming days, Gallant said. Players will be selected as their NHL teams get eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The team will leave for Latvia on May 16. The competition takes place May 21 to June 6.

"Any time you get a chance to work with Hockey Canada and the bunch of hockey players we're going to get over there, it should be real exciting."

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