Four National Hockey League veterans will be behind the bench for Team Canada at the upcoming 2019 IIHF World Championship, May 10-26 in Košice and Bratislava, Slovakia.
Alain Vigneault (Quebec City) will lead Canada’s National Men’s Team as head coach, while Dave Hakstol (Warburg, Alta.), Kirk Muller (Kingston, Ont./Montreal, NHL) and Lindy Ruff (Warburg, Alta./New York Rangers, NHL) will serve as assistant coaches.
The coaching staff was selected by Canada’s management group, which includes Jason Botterill (Winnipeg/Buffalo, NHL), Ron Francis (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and Ron Hextall (Brandon, Man.), as well as Tom Renney (Cranbrook, B.C.), chief executive officer for Hockey Canada, and Scott Smith (Bathurst, N.B.), president and chief operating officer for Hockey Canada.
“We are extremely fortunate to once again bring together four elite-level coaches with over 60 combined years of NHL coaching experience to lead Team Canada in Slovakia,” said Renney. “It is always exciting to represent Canada and compete for a gold medal on the world stage, and we believe this group will use their professional and international experience to provide outstanding leadership to this year’s team.”
Vigneault has spent over 15 years as an NHL head coach, coaching 1,216 regular-season games with the Montreal Canadiens (1997-2000), Vancouver Canucks (2006-13) and New York Rangers (2013-18). He has earned 648 NHL wins and captured the Presidents’ Trophy three times – twice with Vancouver (2010-11, 2011-12) and once with New York (2014-15). Vigneault has been nominated for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year four times (1999-2000, 2006-07, 2010-11, 2014-15), winning in 2006-07 with the Canucks. He has represented Canada twice as an assistant coach at the IIHF World Junior Championship (1989, 1991), winning a gold medal in 1991.
Hakstol makes his return to Canada’s National Men’s Team after winning a silver medal as an assistant coach at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. He spent over three years as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers (2015-18) following 15 seasons in various coaching roles with the University of North Dakota (2000-15). Hakstol also spent three-and-a-half seasons as head coach of the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. During his playing career, he was the captain with North Dakota, and played for the Indianapolis Ice and Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League. He also earned Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) Most Outstanding Defenceman honours in the 1988-89 season.
Muller returned to the Montreal Canadiens coaching staff as an associate coach in the 2016-17 season after serving as an assistant coach with the team from 2006-11. He has also served as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues (2014-16), and head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes (2011-14) and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals (2011). Muller has represented Canada twice as a coach, at the 2008 IIHF World U18 Championship and 2005 Loto Cup. As a player, he suited up in 1,349 NHL games over 19 years with the New Jersey Devils (1984-91), Canadiens (1991-94), New York Islanders (1994-95), Toronto Maple Leafs (1995-97), Florida Panthers (1997-99) and Dallas Stars (1999-2003). Muller played in four IIHF World Championships (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989) and the 1984 IIHF World Junior Championship, and is the youngest player ever to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games (1984).
Ruff recently finished his second season as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers. Prior to joining the Rangers, he served as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres (1997-2012) and Dallas Stars (2013-17), as well as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers (1993-97). As a head coach, he has earned 736 wins in 1,493 regular-season games, and currently ranks sixth all-time in NHL games coached and coaching wins. Ruff led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998, and has been nominated for the Jack Adams Award three times (2005-06, 2006-07, 2015-16), winning the award in 2005-06. He is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, serving as an associate coach at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games. He also served as Canada’s head coach at the IIHF World Championship twice (2009, 2013), winning a silver medal in 2013.
Canada kicks off its 2019 IIHF World Championship schedule at Steel Arena in Košice on Friday, May 10 against Finland at 10:15 a.m. ET/7:15 a.m. PT, with preliminary-round games scheduled through Tuesday, May 21. Canada will also take on Great Britain, Slovakia, France, Germany, Denmark and the United States in the preliminary round before the tournament wraps up with the bronze and gold medal games on Sunday, May 26.
TSN and RDS, Hockey Canada’s official broadcast partners, will carry 64 and 57 games, respectively; check local listings for details.
Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champions. The country has also collected 12 silver medals and seven bronze.