Hockey Canada shook up the program that manages the country’s national teams on Wednesday, and Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill was a part of it.
The Ice bench boss has been named an assistant coach for Canadian squad that will compete in the 2014 World Junior Championships, reuniting with a familiar face in the process.
Brent Sutter, a two-time gold medalist while at the helm of the team in 2005 and 2006, will go for his third championship as the head coach, while Benoit Groulx, head coach and GM of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, will join McGill as the other assistant.
“Brent called the other day and asked if I wanted to join him and I thought it was a great opportunity and we’ve worked together before so it was a comfortable situation for myself,” said McGill, speaking from Toronto, where the announcement was made.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be able to represent your country in one of the highest-profile positions in Hockey Canada and to work with a special group of kids and coaching staff is, I think, a tremendous honour.
“Certainly one that I’m very proud to be asked to do it.”
McGill and Sutter have history together, as the two worked the bench with the Calgary Flames when the latter was at the head coaching helm of the club.
McGill said Sutter’s resume not just at the World Juniors, but over his career, will be a huge advantage to the players and staff.
“Being around today, I think in our meetings, his experience in those situations is really sharp and really proactive and forthcoming,” said McGill, “so I think that’s the biggest thing, is the experience in those situations that’s going to be tremendous not only for the players, but for the group and staff.”
It was a big day for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, the umbrella organization that manages U17 to U-20 national teams, as a new management staff and scouting crew was unveiled in Toronto.
Ryan Jankowski replaces Kevin Predergast as head scout, and will be responsible for scouring the country for the best U-20 talent to field at the World Juniors.
“[I’m] looking forward to the process of how you get to your team,” said McGill, “and the summer camp and how you evaluate players and then how you evaluate players from September to December.”
McGill isn’t the first Kootenay Ice coach to get involved with Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Mark Holick served as an assistant coach on Canada’s U-18 team in 2009, while Cory Clouston was the head coach of the same squad in 2006.
Kootenay’s involvement in the Program of Excellence is something that Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth is pretty proud of.
“I’m a big supporter of that program, have been throughout the years,” Chynoweth said. “You look at Cory Clouston was involved in it, Mark Holick was involved with it, Cory Cameron, now Ryan McGill.
“We’ve been very fortunate that a lot of our coaches have been involved with the Program of Excellence, whether it be the Under-18 or the Under-20 teams, so it’s a great feather in the cap for Ryan McGill and well deserved.”