Lemaire gets long deserved nod from Team Canada
If the formal announcement of Detroit Red Wings coach
For the first time in memory, Hockey Canada stepped outside its comfort zone and picked a coach with no previous ties to the organizing body. Lemaire has never apprenticed as world championships head coach, like the passionate Ruff did this spring. He never has been a water-carrier for Canada's international play like Hitchcock, an x-and-o's wonk who was part of gold-medal-winning staffs in Olympics and World Cups.
Lemaire never went through a successful world juniors campaign like Babcock did in 1997, seven years before coaching Canada to the gold at the 2004 men's worlds. The 63-year-old Lemaire was not hired for his loyalty to the Hockey Canada organization, the gold standard, but because he is, among the current generation of coaches, the greatest fount of hockey wisdom.
As former NHL defenseman
Two questions: Why now? And what took Hockey Canada so long?
Team Canada executive director
Said Armstrong, "Year after year they've always been among the best in the league."
If you remember the balky Red Wings penalty killing throughout the 2008-09 season, and especially during the playoffs, you can understand why Babcock would embrace the idea of a coach with a Ph.D in positional hockey.
Well, why not before?
Hockey Canada CEO
For a two-week event, Lemair would probably have been a bad fit as a head coach.
Given Babcock's preference for puck pressure -- he called it "a 200-foot game" on Thursday -- and Lemaire's trademark trap-and-counterpunch style, theoretically their presence on the same staff could lead to some chalkboard wars. But as Armstrong noted, Babcock, like head coaches anywhere, will listen to input and make the final call.
"Diversity is an asset on a coaching staff," Buffalo GM
And Babcock, 46, is not shy about turning to others for advice and opinions.
A form of hockey nepotism has undermined some of Canada's past Olympic efforts. In 1998, Team Canada GM
At those same Games,
In 2002, Quinn started
There was no nest-feathering here. Yzerman, a Red Wings vice-president who played his final NHL season under Babcock, used his first-hand look to select the best head coach. And after a score of years when Lemaire was ready for the role, Hockey Canada walked up the mountain and found its guru.