Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson was today officially named head coach of the American team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2009 world championship, April 24-May 10 in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzlerand.
"We're going to have a young team, we're going to have an aggressive team and we're going to play an attacking style," Wilson said of the U.S. team at the 2010 Games.
Wilson led the American side to the gold medal at the first-ever World Cup of hockey in 1996 and was also the head coach of the U.S. side at the 1998 Nagano Olmpics, a disappointing tournament for his team both on and off the ice. The U.S. team finished sixth and a number of players gave the organization a black eye by trashing their dorm rooms after being eliminated from the Games.
Wilson is the second-winningest active coach in the NHL.
“It’s no secret that Ron Wilson is one of the best coaches in the game,” said Brian Burke, the Leafs GM and general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team. “Our national team management group is excited to have Ron lead our team in Berne and Vancouver. He brings passion, energy and an overall knowledge of the international landscape to the table that is second to none.”
Wilson, who has coached 1,170 NHL games and has 550 wins to his credit, is in his first season as the head coach of the Maple Leafs.
Wilson has been the head coach of five different U.S. teams, an assistant coach once and also played for Team USA five times over the course of his career. He first played for the U.S. squad at the 1975 world championship and was the head coach for the first time at the 1994 worlds.
Most recently, Wilson led the United States in the World Cup of Hockey 2004 where it finished with a 2-3-0 record and lost out in the semi-final round of the tournament. He also guided the United States to the championship of the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996, one of the brightest moments in U.S. hockey history. Team USA finished with a 6-1-0 overall record and claimed the title by winning a best-of-three championship series against Canada, including a 5-2 victory in the decisive third game played in Montreal.
“When you think of the very best coaches in the game, Ron Wilson’s name most certainly jumps out at you. We have great confidence in his abilities to lead our teams, both at the world championship this year and the Olympics in 2010," said David Poile, associate GM of the 2010 U.S. men's team.
Wilson said in a conference call yesterday that Canada will be the favourite on home ice in Vancouver, but vowed that his American squad will also challenge for the gold.
"I don't think we're going to be intimidated playing in Canada," said Wilson.
It's expected that Leafs forward Jason Blake will play under Wilson at the worlds later this month in Switzerland.