Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Team Canada selects Armstrong as general manager

AP, TORONTO

The World Cup will be a whole new experience for Hockey Canada.

Doug Armstrong on Monday was selected as Team Canada general manager and he said that there are advantages and challenges to the eight-team event that is to be held in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 next year.

“It’s going to be exciting knowing that you’re going to get healthy players with energy,” Armstrong said, referring to the early fall start time.

“At the Olympics, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that last game you’re not losing players. That’s not going to be the case now. We’re going to get well-rested players,” Armstrong said.

The event, hosted by the NHL and NHLPA, has had some tweaks made to its format. Traditional hockey powers Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the US will have teams, but two all-star teams are also to compete.

An all-European lineup of players from unrepresented countries is to play, as well as a team of North American players 23 years old and younger.

“When you go to some international events, some of the games aren’t maybe as competitive as other games,” Armstrong said after a news conference in downtown Toronto.

“At this one, certainly, all games are going to be competitive, and you jump right in to having to play your way into the playoffs. It’s going to be a great challenge and we’re going to have to be ready to play right off the bat,” he said.

Armstrong will have to balance his day job as St Louis Blues general manager with his Team Canada responsibilities. He is to get help from Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray, Los Angeles Kings assistant Rob Blake and Hockey Canada vice president Scott Salmond.

Armstrong and Holland return from the management group that put together last year’s undefeated, gold medal-winning Sochi Olympic team. Blake served as Canada’s general manager for last year’s world championships. Bergevin has played for Canada in international competition, but this is his first management post.

The rules and playing surface of the World Cup are to be different from most international hockey competitions.

An NHL-sized, 61m by 26m rink is to be used, unlike most Olympics and world hockey championships, which use the larger international standard of 61m by 30.5m.

“I think that’s going to benefit us, because all of our players will be NHL players and they’re going to understand that format,” Armstrong said. “But when you look at the international players that are going to be playing here, the majority of them will have NHL experience. We’re going to pick the best players that can play, but I know our guys are extremely comfortable on the playing surface.”

The event is to use a hybrid of NHL and international rules, but Armstrong said the logistics of that have not been worked out yet.

Part of Salmond’s responsibilities will be to work with organizers on how the two styles blend together.

Armstrong said there was nearly unanimous agreement about who Canada’s top 16 players would be. He plans to announce them as early as March 1 next year, but wants to have a coaching staff in place before then so he can have their input on the roster as well.

“As far as names for the [coaching] staff, there’s a lot of great candidates,” Armstrong said.

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