I was sitting in studio on Tuesday for Edmonton's game versus Anaheim and I read a promo about the World Cup of Hockey. It kind of hit me or reminded me of that big event Canada is hosting this September before NHL teams get their own clubs up and running. I kind of forgot about it, as I have been immersed in all that is Oilers and everything else that is going on around the league.
While the event is still months away, Sportsnet is set to air a three-hour special on Wednesday March 2 when the teams are announced. We, as in Sportsnet, have exclusive rights so we'll be all over it, but around here the club that feels closest is North America.
I mean the nucleus of the management team resides right here in Edmonton. Peter Chiarelli, along with Stan Bowman, is putting the squad together and once they're done it will be Todd McLellan coaching. He also has one of his assistants Jay Woodcroft that is joining him. Let's not forget Connor McDavid is high on the list of 24-and-under players that will be on the team. Also Ryan Nugent Hopkins, who I see around the rink with a bandaged right hand, is intent on making the squad as well. The Oilers expect to be well represented at the World Cup when it comes to the North American squad.
Whenever Edmonton has played Chicago this season, sitting in the stands and talking hockey would be Chiarelli and Bowman. If it wasn't a World Cup year the rumours would be rampant that the two were working on a deal. While they may talk NHL, the bulk of the information they pass back and forth revolves around the squad they are building to represent Canada and the United States. We have heard it about Canada for decades and in the case of the U.S. for years that these countries could staff two squads. Well, now they will be combining to make it Three's Company with a third group to represent the continent of North America.
While the two GM's need to agree on players they first needed to agree on a coach. It wasn't long after Todd McLellan took over the Oilers when Peter Chiarelli approached him about another job. McLellan clearly wanted in on the World Cup. Along the way, the Oilers GM had to make sure the Hawks GM was on board with Todd as the bench boss. Not an issue thanks to one Bowman, Stan, hearing from another Bowman named Scotty. The winningest coach of all-time knows McLellan from his days in Detroit and he didn't hesitate throwing his backing behind the former Wings assistant. When Scotty Bowman talks, people, including his son, listen.
Once McLellan was in place he was the one who chose his staff. Chiarelli and Bowman left it up to the coach to put together the best people to complement his game plan. Just like he was approached to work the bench, he then turned around and did the same with Woodcroft, Dave Tippett, Jon Cooper, Peter Deboer. All gave an emphatic “yes.”
All that's now left to ponder are the players. Who is in and who isn't? It’s guaranteed they will be young, fast, skilled and motivated to show everyone they are ready to take on the world.