Toronto Maple Leafs Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations David Nonis will try his hand at constructing a roster for an international tournament for the first time after being named general manager for Canada's entry in the 2011 IIHF World Championships, Hockey Canada announced Thursday.
The 44-year-old Nonis will have plenty of help in trying to deliver Canada's first title in the event since 2007. His staff will include Rob Blake, a 20-year NHL veteran who recently joined the NHL's Hockey Operations department; Anaheim Ducks General Manager Bob Murray; and Hockey Canada Vice President of Hockey Operations/National Teams Brad Pascall.
"I want to thank Hockey Canada for this great opportunity," Nonis said in a release. "I look forward to taking on this challenge of assembling a team that will go for gold in Slovakia, with the support of Bob, Rob and Brad, as well as the hockey operations department at Hockey Canada."
Nonis was the general manager in Vancouver for four seasons and also serves as GM for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Blake retired from the NHL in June and joined the Hockey Operations department as a manager in January.
Blake played for Canada in nine international competitions, winning gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 1997 World Championship. He won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001 and the Norris Trophy as the League's top defenseman in 1998.
"David brings great experience at the management level while Rob has a great background at both the international and professional levels as a player," said Bob Nicholson, Hockey Canada's CEO and president.
Added Blake: "I was fortunate enough when I played to be invovled with Team Canada and to understand the pride and the passion that went into the country every time you pulled the jersey over your head, so I'm fortunate to be back in this position and looking forward to working with these guys."
The 2011 IIHF World Championships will be in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia, from April 29-May 15. Czech Republic defeated Russia in the gold-medal game last season, ending Russia's two-year reign in the event.
"I can tell you I didn't have a long and illustrious career, but one of the proudest moments I ever had in my playing career wasn't playing in a game -- it was trying out for Team Canada in 1988," Nonis said.