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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Experience makes Hay right man to coach Canada

Friday, 12.23.2011 / 9:57 AM / 2012 World Junior Championship

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

A lot has changed in hockey since the World Junior Championship was last held in Alberta in 1995.

One thing that hasn't, though, is Canada's coach, Don Hay.

Hay, who coached Team Canada to a gold medal at the 1995 tournament in Red Deer, will return behind Canada's bench at the 2012 World Juniors in Edmonton and Calgary. He is looking for a golden repeat.

OK, maybe Hay himself has changed -- just a little, he says.

"I know I'm a lot older," Hay said. "I think I have a lot more experience. At that time I was only two years in as a head coach. I just feel I'm a lot more experienced this time. I've seen a lot of different things happen along the way. I feel really comfortable about the situation. At that time everything was very new."

"I think I have a lot more experience. At that time I was only two years in as a head coach. I just feel I'm a lot more experienced this time. I've seen a lot of different things happen along the way. I feel really comfortable about the situation. At that time everything was very new." -- Don Hay

Hay, then 40, led a powerhouse Canadian team to gold in 1995, going undefeated in the tournament thanks in large part to a stacked roster bolstered in part by the fact the NHL was experiencing a work stoppage and more players were available.

"(The tournament) just zipped by," Hay said. "Seventeen years later, you start thinking back to memories of it."

That '95 team team featured eventual NHL talents Jason Allison, Bryan McCabe and Alexandre Daigle. Also on that team was Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, who hasn't forgotten the impact Hay had on him in the tournament.

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"As a coach, he demands a lot," Smyth said. "He's a very well respected coach and a person. The guys really liked him."

Almost two decades later, Teeam Canada's Brendan Gallagher paints a similar portrait of Hay, who is also Gallagher's coach for the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants.

"The one thing you learn about Don very quickly is he's very intense and very competitive," Gallagher said. "He knows how to win hockey games. If you do what he wants you to do, play hard and compete, you'll have no problems … he'll like you. He loves competitive, smart players; so if you're able to do that you'll be on his good side."

While Hay remains close to the same coach he was 17 years ago in leading Canada to gold, the World Junior Championship has changed dramatically. Those changes, he says, will make the quest for gold much more difficult this time.

"I think the biggest thing that's changed is that it's more important now to more countries," Hay said. "At one time it was first and foremost with the Canadians and maybe not as important to some of the other countries. Now there are other countries that take a lot of pride in winning the World Juniors."

But, the competitiveness of the field is an obstacle to be overcome, not a built-in excuse in case expectations aren't met.

"Everything is 'gold or nothing' here right now," Hay said. "That's the way Canada thinks. There is no rule we deserve gold every year. We want to win gold medals, but we don't have a lock on gold medals."

Canada has failed to win gold since their five-year win streak was snapped in 2010 by the Americans. Canada has finished with a pair of silver medals the last two years.

And that's something Hay is hoping he can change.

I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday