Stevie Y to lead Team Canada

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:09 AM ET

CALGARY - Gold never gets old.

And since Steve Yzerman satisfied Canada’s win-or-else expectations at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, he’ll get a shot to duplicate his success in Sochi two years from now.

Hockey Canada announced Monday the former Detroit Red Wings star and current GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning will once again serve as executive director of the men’s national team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with experienced hockey execs Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland and Kevin Lowe returning as members of the management group.

Hockey Canada staffers Bob Nicholson and Brad Pascall are back on board, too.

“I don’t think the tournament is any easier (the second time),” Yzerman said. “But I just think the more times you do something, the more comfortable you are. I think I learned a lot from the last one. Without being specific, there’s things I would do differently. I don’t think we can do everything the same. You can’t take for granted that everything you did was right.

“But the more experiences you have, whether it’s as a coach or a manager or a player, you learn from them and you get better.”

Yzerman, 46, certainly isn’t lacking experience.

As a skater, he’s a 10-time NHL all-star and a three-time Stanley Cup champion, and his lengthy international resume includes a trip to the world juniors, three world championships and two Olympic appearances. He’s now been the Bolts’ front-office boss for the past two seasons.

Lowe, who was also named Canada’s GM for the upcoming world championships in Finland/Sweden, traces his admiration for Yzerman back to the 1984 Canada Cup tournament, admitting the soft-spoken centre reminded him of a pretty talented teammate.

“All the great ones, similar to Wayne (Gretzky), they take their jobs seriously,” Lowe said. “They’re winners, and it’s their attention to detail that separates them from the rest of hockey people.

“He impressed in ’84, and he impressed, really, from 2008 all the way up to 2010.”

Now, Yzerman will attempt a feat The Great One couldn’t pull off.

Gretzky was executive director of Canada’s golden entry at the ’02 Olympics in Salt Lake City — Yzerman was an assistant captain on that star-studded team — but couldn’t duplicate his success in 2006 in Torino, where they finished seventh.

Thanks to Sidney Crosby’s golden overtime goal in Vancouver, the Canadians will arrive in Russia in February ’14 as defending champs. According to Holland, Yzerman is the ideal candidate to lead the quest to repeat.

“First off, he’s played. He’s represented the country in the Olympics. He helped Canada win gold in 2002. and he’s a Hall-of-Fame player, so he brings that perspective,” said the longtime Red Wings GM. “He’s got a tremendous presence because of what he accomplished as a player. He’s got a tremendous presence as the leader of the group and of the team, and he’s got experience now being in the front office of a team. He’s now a general manager in the NHL. He’s been a GM at the world championships.

“I just think when you put it all together … He’s got passion. He’s got tremendous pride. He’s a fierce competitor.”

And he’s a proven winner.

Just as important, the pressure of picking a golden group for his hockey-crazed country doesn’t seem to faze the man everybody knows as Stevie Y.

“For me, given the opportunity to go to Russia and compete in the Olympics again, that’s too good an opportunity to pass up,” Yzerman added. “I don’t worry about not succeeding. I want to try. It’s too great a challenge to pass up.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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