Ratushny, Hanlon go way back
Ratushny, Hanlon go way back
Paths crossed in Vancouver, 22 year ago
Ratushny was a promising junior from Nepean, Ontario, just outside Ottawa. He was drafted 25th overall by Winnipeg in 1989 after his first season of NCAA hockey at Cornell.
Six months later, he was playing alongside Eric Lindros, Kris Draper, and Mike Ricci, helping Canada win gold at the World Junior Championship in Finland. Ratushny continued playing at Cornell but left when he had the chance to play for Canada’s National Team and the 1992 Olympics. He won a silver medal in Albertville, France, and his future looked bright. But in 1992-93 he could find no higher team than the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL.
On 22nd March 1993, he was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks from the Jets for a 9th-round draft choice in 1993. The Canucks sent him to Hamilton in the AHL for the rest of the season. The Jets selected Harijs Vitolins, who later played six World Championships for Latvia.
On the final day of the 1992/93 season, Ratushny was called up to the Canucks. He played in a wild 8-6 win over Wayne Gretzky and the L.A. Kings, earning an assist on Geoff Courtnall’s game-winning goal late in the third period which broke a 6-6 tie.
“I knew Glen Hanlon 20 years ago,” Ratushny reminisced after Austria defeated Hanlon’s Team Swiss national team in the opening game of the World Championship. “I was with the minor-league team in Hamilton, so he would come to our team a lot, and that’s when I got to know him. He’s still the same. Really sincere, genuine, fun-loving guy. He’s a helluva good coach, too.”Continue reading
Hanlon had retired the previous year after a 14-year career which included five years in Vancouver, so in 1992 the Canucks hired him as a goalie coach. His first job off the ice coincided with Ratushny’s only NHL moment on it!
After Ratushny retired, he returned to school and earned a series of degrees. First came a B. Sc. in economics in 1997, then an MBA in 2003, and, finally, his law degree in 2006. This is not the usual path for a hockey coach.
“When I was at law school,” he explained, “a buddy of mine asked me to help coach the University of Ottawa team, and I just really loved it. I had had a little experience as a player-coach in my last year when I was studying and playing. Then I went to work at a law firm in Toronto for three years, and a coaching job came up with my old team in Switzerland. My law firm was great. They told me to take a year off, go coach - it would be a great experience - and come back. That one year has now turned into six. I love it.”
From his first job to today, serendipity has been his guiding light it seems.
“When I moved from the DEL and I got the job at Red Bull Salzburg [in the Austrian league], I think that was the first thing towards being national-team coach. Austria was looking for a coach, and with the schedule, you either need a full-time national team coach or a coach from the league you’re in. It just seemed to work out, and they took a chance on me. I’m very grateful for that.”
One thing seems certain is that his early playing experiences internationally for Canada has shaped who he is behind the bench today.
“All those things help. Hockey has it’s own culture, so the more experiences you have within that culture, you learn from those experiences and develop your instincts and your reactions and judgement and way of doing things. I was also able to play in Finland, a year in Japan. All those things help.”
Let’s see how Fate treats him the rest of the way in Prague. A team that has been promoted and demoted every year for a decade hopes to buck the odds by staying up another year. A win to start is a step in the right direction for the one-game wonder, lawyer-cum-coach.
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