Unofficially, tryouts for Canada’s 2014 men’s Olympic team will start soon – at this year’s world championships, where a former Olympic assistant, Lindy Ruff, was named head coach of Canada’s 2013 world championship entry Wednesday. Ruff’s primary assistant will be former NHLer Doug Shedden, who coached Canada’s Spengler Cup team and currently coaches Zug of the Swiss League.
Ruff became available after he was fired by the Buffalo Sabres earlier this year, ending a 15-year association with the NHL team. Ruff was an associate coach under Mike Babcock on Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic team, and was head coach of the 2009 world championship entry which won a silver medal in Switzerland. Ruff ranks second to Al Arbour in most games coached and most games won with a single franchise.
Shedden coached Canada’s Spengler Cup team to a gold medal this past Christmas, after three appearances as an assistant. He was head coach of Finland’s national team in 2007 and 2008 and led the Finns to a bronze at the 2008 world championships.
A preliminary playing roster will be announced as more NHL teams are eliminated from the playoffs. The world championships start May 3 in both Helsinski and Stockholm. Canada will be based out of Stockholm and opens the tournament May 4 against Denmark.
Canada often uses the world championships as a means of evaluating NHL personnel on the larger international-sized ice surfaces and will try to coax as many bubble players as possible from non-playoff teams to attend this year's event, in the hopes that it will enhance their chances of cracking the final Olympic roster. The hope is that in a shortened NHL season, where many players didn't get on the ice until mid-January, the usual excuses about fatigue etc., will not be made.