In search of a fourth-consecutive Spengler Cup championship, Hockey Canada has named Sean Burke (Windsor, Ont./Montreal, NHL) and Ron Francis (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) co-general managers of Canada’s National Men’s Team for the 2018 tournament, Dec. 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland.
In addition, Kevin Dineen (Toronto, Ont.) will lead Team Canada as head coach, joined by assistants Gordie Dwyer (Dalhousie, N.B.) and Mike Kitchen (Newmarket, Ont.), and video consultant Diego Scandella (Montréal, Que./Vasas SC, HUN)
Burke and Francis have a combined 41 years of playing experience in the NHL, along with years of management experience at the highest levels of the game.
“Sean and Ron bring so much to the table, so bringing them on board was an obvious choice for us,” said Tom Renney, CEO of Hockey Canada. “Not only do they have years of experience as players and executives, but both are decorated Team Canada alumni. They know what it means to play for Canada, and what it takes to do it successfully.”
Burke, a professional scout with the Montreal Canadiens, won a bronze medal as general manager of Canada’s 2018 Men’s Olympic Team, and built the Canadian rosters that won the last two editions of the Spengler Cup. He has also been part of Team Canada management at the last four IIHF World Championships – as co-GM in 2018 (silver), GM in 2017 (silver), director of player development in 2016 (gold) and as a member of management group in 2015 (gold). Burke is Canada’s all-time goaltending leader in games played (35), minutes played (1,991), and wins (21) at the IIHF World Championship – an event at which he won two gold and two silver medals in five appearances as a player. A two-time Olympian (1988, 1992), Burke won silver at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games, and is an IIHF World Junior Championship silver medallist from 1986.
Francis represented Canada just once during his playing career, winning a silver medal at the 1985 IIHF World Championship. A two-time Stanley Cup champion (1991, 1992), 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players, he retired following the 2003-04 season as one of the highest-scoring players in NHL history – Francis ranks second all-time in assists (1,249), fourth in games played (1,731) and fifth in points (1,798). He spent 12 seasons in management with the Carolina Hurricanes, serving as executive vice-president of hockey operations and general manager from 2014-18.
Dineen has twice stood behind the bench in international competition; he led Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team to gold at the 2014 Games in Sochi, and won bronze with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship. As a player, he represented Canada on six occasions, including the 1984 Olympic Winter Games and 1987 Canada Cup, and at four IIHF World Championships (1985, 1987, 1989, 1993). A veteran of 19 NHL seasons as a player, Dineen has spent parts of 14 seasons as a coach in the NHL and AHL, including as head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2011-13, and won the Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.
Dwyer is looking for his second Spengler Cup championship after helping Canada to the title as an assistant coach in 2016. He also won bronze as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2012 IIHF U18 World Championship. Following a nine-year pro career that included 108 NHL games with Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers and Montreal, Dwyer has coached in the MHL, QMJHL, KHL and NLA, most recently as head coach of Dinamo Minsk.
Kitchen will join Team Canada for the first time. He is a long-time NHL coach, including parts of three seasons as the head coach of the St. Louis Blues, and two Stanley Cup championships (2013, 2015) as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks. Kitchen played 474 NHL games with Colorado and New Jersey during a nine-year professional career.
Scandella returns as video consultant at the Spengler Cup for the fourth time, having won the tournament in 2007 and 2012 in addition to a runner-up finish in 2008. He was also video coach with Canada’s National Men’s Team at the 2004 Loto Cup, finishing third. Scandella has spent much of the last three decades coaching in Europe, including international experience at the IIHF World Championship (Top Division and Division 1) with Hungary (2006-09, 2013-16), Spain (2011), Switzerland (2010) and Croatia (2003).
In its 92nd year, the Spengler Cup begins Dec. 26 with Canada facing host HC Davos. Canada has won the tournament 15 times since first taking part in 1984, along with nine runner-up finishes.