Canada opts for Ruff ride

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:27 AM ET

In the end, Doug Armstrong decided it was not fair to put Craig MacTavish in such a tough position.

"I felt he had enough on his plate - that he didn't need this," the GM of Team Canada said yesterday of deciding not to offer the Oilers bench boss the head coaching job for the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Switzerland.

Team Canada opens the tournament Apr. 24 against Belarus.

"It looked like it's been a trying year for Craig. I was trying to get a feel where everybody was," he said of the coaches who missed the playoffs, three of whom are the NHL's most tenured coaches: MacTavish, Buffalo's Lindy Ruff and Nashville's Barry Trotz.

When the Sabres followed the Oilers out of the playoffs, Armstrong offered the job to Ruff, a native of Warburg.

Together they then selected Trotz and Dave Tippett of the Dallas Stars to join the staff.

MacTavish is expected to offer some statement in regard to his future with the Oilers this morning.

When it comes to Oilers' players on Team Canada, there's the expectation that 39-year-old netminder Dwayne Roloson will get the call, despite being the oldest netminder in NHL history to to start 36 consecutive games and play in 60 in a season.

It's believed that Team Canada also had interest in Sheldon Souray, but that he had advanced word through Edmonotn GM Steve Tambellini that he did not wish to be considered this time.

That likely would leave Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano as the only remaining Oilers to potentially join what is expected to be a very young team.

Three spots - one for a goaltender, one for a defenceman and one for a forward - will be left open for players from teams knocked out in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ruff has just completed his 12th season as Sabres head coach. Trotz was an assistant with Team Canada in Sweden in 2003.

"It's a little intimidating, especially on the heels of coming off a disappointing finish for our team," Ruff told The Canadian Press.

"I think these experiences really do lend to improving yourself as a coach. New ideas, new ways of looking at things, new ways of approaching different situations in a game.

"You're standing behind a bench with a couple coaches that have tremendous respect in our league and I have tremendous respect for. I just think it's going to be a great experience."

Tippett represented Canada as a player at two Olympics and won silver in 1992 in Albertville, France.


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