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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Lindy Ruff (Photo: Freestyle Photography)
Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey Team executive director Steve Yzerman, along with Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson, announced on Thursday that Mike Babcock (Saskatoon, Sask./Detroit Red Wings, NHL) has been named head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.

Mike Babcock, 46, will be leading a Canadian national team at a third major international event in Vancouver, after leading Canada to gold medals at both the 1997 IIHF World Junior Championship in Switzerland and the 2004 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic.

He is the only Canadian head coach to lead teams to gold medals at those two events. Babcock has just completed his fourth season as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, leading that team to a Stanley Cup in 2008, an appearance in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, and four 40-win seasons.

He also coached the Anaheim Ducks from 2002-05, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. Born in Manitouwadge, Ont., Babcock was raised in Saskatoon, Sask., and played two seasons in the WHL followed by four years at McGill Univeristy, where he was twice named the team MVP while earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education.

Yzerman also announced on Thursday that Babcock will be supported by three associate coaches:

Jacques Lemaire, 63, will make his international coaching debut at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. A two-time Jack Adams Trophy winner as the NHL’s coach of the year, the native of LaSalle, Que. has been a head coach in the NHL for 15 seasons, including nine seasons with the Minnesota Wild from 2000-09.

He was also the head coach of the New Jersey Devils from 1993-98, leading them to a Stanley Cup in 1995. In a distinguished 12-year playing career, Lemaire won eight Stanley Cups and finished among the NHL’s top ten scorers on three occasions. Lemaire was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.

Lindy Ruff, 49, is currently the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL, having just completed his 12th season with the Buffalo Sabres. The 2010 Olympic Winter Game will mark Ruff’s second international event with Canada. The native of Warburg, Alta. was Canada’s head coach this past May in Switzerland, where he helped Canada capture a silver medal at the 2009 IIHF World Championship.

Ruff is the all-time winningest coach in Buffalo  history and was a runner-up for the 2007 Jack Adams Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s coach of the year. The former defenceman/forward is a former Buffalo Sabres captain and appeared in 691 NHL games after three seasons with the WHL’s Lethbridge Broncos.

Ken Hitchcock, 57, will be coaching Canada at an international competition for a seventh time in Vancouver in February. The native of Edmonton, Alta. led Canada to a silver medal at the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Quebec City, Que. as head coach. As an associate coach, Hitchcock won a gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and helped Canada capture the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

He was also an associate coach at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and the 2002 IIHF World Championship, and an assistant coach with Canada’s gold medal-winning entry at the 1988 IIHF World Junior Championship. Hitchcock has just completed his 13th season as an NHL head coach, leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to its first-ever playoff appearance in 2009. He also coached in Philadelphia and Dallas, leading the Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999.  Prior to joining the professional ranks, Hitchcock was the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, compiling the second-best winning percentage (.693) in WHL history.

“With Canada’s great passion for hockey, we are lucky to be able to count on a long list of quality Canadian coaches, which gave the management group many great options,” said Yzerman. “As a group, we are very pleased with the coaching staff that we have announced today, a group with extensive international and professional experience and success. We look forward to the challenge ahead and are proud to represent Canada in Vancouver in February.”

The management group, comprised of Yzerman, Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson and Hockey Canada executive vice-president of hockey operations Johnny Misley, along with associate directors Doug Armstrong (Sarnia, Ont./St. Louis Blues, NHL), Ken Holland (Vernon, B.C./Detroit Red Wings, NHL), Kevin Lowe (Lachute, Que./Edmonton Oilers, NHL) and the newly-named coaching staff, will be finalizing an invitation list and details for the upcoming National Men’s Team orientation camp from August 24-28 in Calgary, Alta. The invitation list will be announced shortly.

Yzerman and Hockey Canada also unveiled Canada’s support staff for the upcoming 2010 Olympic Winter Games, comprised of individuals with extensive international hockey experience, combining for over 100 major international events:
  • Sr. Director, Men’s National Teams: Brad Pascall (Coquitlam, B.C./Hockey Canada)    
  • Director, Men’s National Teams: Scott Salmond (Creston, B.C./Hockey Canada)    
  • Video Manager: Ben Cooper (Vancouver, B.C./Hockey Canada)
  • Team Doctor: Dr. Jim Thorne (Calgary, Alta./Hockey Canada)
  • Equipment Manager: Pierre Gervais (Trois-Rivières, Que./Montreal Canadiens, NHL)
  • Equipment Manager: Pat O’Neill (Winnipeg, Man./Vancouver Canucks, NHL)
  • Athletic Therapist: Mike Burnstein (Hamilton, Ont./Vancouver Canucks, NHL)
  • Athletic Therapist: Jim Ramsay (Winnipeg, Man./New York Rangers, NHL)
  • Therapist: Kent Kobelka (Revelstoke, B.C./Hockey Canada)
  • Media Relations: André Brin (Winnipeg, Man./Hockey Canada)
  • Media Relations: J.J. Hebert (Ottawa, Ont./Edmonton Oilers, NHL)
  • Coordinator, Men’s National Teams: Mark Black (Regina, Sask./Hockey Canada)

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