St. Louis’s loss is Canada’s gain. Joel Quenneville signed on today for some international duty, named as coach of Canada’s team at the World Hockey Championships.
Looking at this as a tremendous opportunity, Quenneville says he can’t wait until that first game on April 25th. Until then though, Quenneville will return to the rinks of the NHL, something he’s not been inclined to do since his dismissal by the Blues. But with a purpose to view the games now, he’s in a hurry to get to the rink. Quenneville will be scouting out the games of the soon to be departed and those teams on the bubble, trying to get a handle on which players would be a good fit for the International game.
Canada is defending champion this year, as Andy Murray led the International brigade to the championship in the 2003 games in Helsinki. Murray says that Quenneville is a terrific choice and there won’t be a lot of advice he can offer to him. He does have a few ideas to pass along and Quenneville says he’ll be all ears, looking forward to picking Murray's brains for some strategies for Prague.
Team Canada GM Jim Nill says he, Assistant GM Dan Maloney, Quenneville and player personnel director Lanny McDonald, will all have to sit down and decide how many spots to leave open for first round casualties in the NHL. Eight teams could be eliminated from the playoffs by the time the Canadians play in their first game, giving the management team a large pool to choose from to fill the 22 NHL roster spots available. With Quenneville now settling in as coach, they mind that there won’t be as many declined invitations this year; such is his popularity with the troops of the NHL.