International Ice Hockey Federation

McLellan odd man in

McLellan odd man in

Canada’s coach an IIHF rookie

Published 30.04.2015 16:35 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
McLellan odd man in
From San Jose to Prague: Todd McLellan wants to lead Canada to gold at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Photo: Bill Wippert / NHLI via Getty Images
Despite an impressive resume with the San Jose Sharks and many years spent in other leagues, coach Todd McLellan will coach internationally for the first time.

But the Sharks failed to make the playoffs, and he was the best man available according to Hockey Canada, and that’s all that matters.

“The management team has assembled a team that is young, fun, energetic, dynamic, and I’m excited to be working with these guys,” McLellan said of the team’s roster not long after being introduced as Canada’s coach. “The players are looking forward to continuing their season.”

As a bonus for the international rookie, McLellan has perhaps the most talented Canadian team since it last won gold, in 2007, a fact not lost on him, by any means.

“We’re representing Canada, so that means we’re aiming for gold,” he surmised bluntly. “It doesn’t matter what level or what team, that’s always the goal. It may be cliché, but everyone expects it. We’ll work towards that on day one, and try to get better the next day and the day after that.”

McLellan’s chances of reaching the podium got infinitely better just a few days ago when Sidney Crosby asked to join the team. The two-time Olympic gold medallist has played in only one previous Worlds, in 2006 in Riga, but his credentials speak for themselves. It’s only a matter of time before number 87 is named team captain for Prague.

This Canadian team is loaded with talent up front, so Mclellan will have the enviable task of having a team that can score goals.

“When you look at the forwards, this is a group that has speed,” he agreed. “These players can provide offence, and on the bigger international ice we expect them to do that. At the same time, one of the challenges will get them to play both ways. They have to be committed to both ends of the rink.”

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In an effort to eradicate the steep learning curve, McLellan enlisted the advice of two friends, Hockey Canada president Tom Renney and Detroit/Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. It’s no mistake that Babcock won two gold with Crosby, in 2010 and again last year in Sochi, and McLellan has no problem learning from the best.

“I talked to Mike Babcock and Tom Renney to get their perspectives,” he explained. “I know Mike, and what the team did at the Olympics was fantastic. There’s lots we’ll steal from that. I’ve reviewed the technical package. One of the things I’ve learned was that Mike used his players the right way, and everyone sacrificed ego for the good of the team.”

The goaltending might be the most suspect part of the team, but Mike Smith has proved himself at the international level before, and if the forwards keep the puck in the opposing end, Smith’s role will be minimized all the same.

“Our strength is offence, but we have to accept the challenge to be good in our own end,” McLellan continued. “On paper, if you look at the names, I think we have a great chance, but we have to come together as a team. That’s the key.”


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