MONTREAL -- Dominique Ducharme was named coach of Canada for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, Hockey Canada announced Monday.
Ducharme, coach and general manager of Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, will have the pressure of leading Canada as the host of the tournament, which will be held in Toronto and Montreal from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2017.
Named as assistant coaches were Tim Hunter, coach of Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League; Kris Knoblauch, coach of Erie of the Ontario Hockey League; and Misha Donskov, an assistant coach with London of the OHL.
"We will not be satisfied by simply being good," Ducharme said. "We want to be excellent. We want to be special."
Ducharme repeatedly used the word "special" to describe the team he wants to build and the players he wants on that team. He was an assistant to coach Dave Lowry with Canada at the 2016 WJC. Canada finished sixth after losing in the quarterfinals to host and eventual gold medalist Finland, so Ducharme said he feels he has a strong understanding of the qualities that make up a team of "special" players who can avoid a similar result at home. Canada won the gold in 2015 as the host nation.
"It's quite different to go from playing [Canadian Hockey League] hockey in December to within two weeks playing what I can qualify as maybe [American Hockey League], Game 7, final," he said. "So you've got to be able to adapt. You've got to be able to maybe take a different role. You've got to be playing at that level and adjust your game a little bit but staying yourself at the same time. So all those things, you need to be special."
Ducharme coached Canada to the gold medal at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, a top summer under-18 tournament. In 2012-13 he coached Halifax of the QMJHL to the CHL Memorial Cup championship and won the CHL coach of the year award, leading a team that included Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin.
"He's had terrific experiences," Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said. "You don't win a Memorial Cup by accident. That's real, so he knows how to win. The under-18 Ivan Hlinka, he knows how to win there. I even look at last year's experience with the World Junior Championship in Finland, that's very, very important to look at and understand and appreciate.
"With that I think we've got a terrific leader in Dom, someone that can not only lead his players and his team but his coaching staff and the staff around him. It's important to keep everybody locked in and motivated and Dom does that better than anybody."
Renney also pointed out that Ducharme's experience makes him uniquely capable of handling the pressure Canada will feel as the tournament hosts.
"I think pressure and Dom Ducharme are very friendly with each other," Renney said.
Ducharme shared Renney's sentiment, noting that teams normally play an entire regular season in order to have Game 7 of a playoff series at home and that Canada will be handed that advantage from the start of the tournament.
"I don't feel pressure," he said. "The way I see it is we need to prepare. Once you're well-prepared you're ready to face a lot of things. There's a fine line between winning and losing in that tournament and we're going to be working on that from today to Dec. 26 when we start."