CALGARY - It’s not often that the head coach and general manager of of Team Canada heading to the world championships are as forceful about going to win as Brent Sutter and Kevin Lowe were here Monday.
It’s not always easy to assemble and bring a team together when it’s made up of players who missed the playoffs or lost a first-round series.
Usually at this stage, they’re selling the experience.
But it’s different for Team Canada this year headed to the tournament in Helsinki.
“We’re going to this to win,” said Sutter. “We’re going to put everything we have into it.
“This world championships is very important for Canada looking forward to the next Olympics. Our goal is to put Canada in the best situation you can have.”
Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson said he believes Sutter has a full tank of personal motivation.
“He’s in a situation where he wants to show he can win. I love it. That’s why I’m happy to see him going. He did an exceptional job coaching Canada to two undefeated gold medal championships at the world junior and I can’t wait to see him tackle this.”
Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe said he and Sutter are similarly motivated.
“I look at Brent and we’re kind of in the same situation. You want to be able to show people,” he said of both having had teams out of the playoffs a lot lately.
Sutter was officially introduced here Monday as coach of Team Canada.
Hockey Canada put the Sochi Olympic management team together early to encourage players to compete for seeding and get big-ice experience prior to 2014, despite the fact it isn’t official that NHL players will be in the Olympics.
Canada, despite winning gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, has lost quarter-final games at the last two worlds and dropped to fourth overall in the IIHF rankings. The rankings decide how teams are seeded, choice of dressing rooms, practice schedules and so much more at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
“It’s very important for the seeding for the Olympics. We’re going there to win. That’s got to be our mindset. We’ll put everything we can into it and hopefully make it happen,” said Sutter.
“We’ve got to form ourselves into being a very good team right off the bat. I expect them all to come in and jump right on board, and we’ll get busy right off the hop.”
Sutter will have Guy Boucher of Tampa Bay and Kirk Muller of Carolina as his assistants. He has coached Canada at international competitions on three previous occasions, going undefeated to win the world junior in 2005 and 2006, and leading Canada to a 7-0-1 record at the 2006 Canada-Russia Super Series which featured the top junior players from the two countries.
And Sutter is impressed with the team put together by Lowe, Peter Chiarelli and Dave Nonis from the larger Sochi 2014 group, headed by Steve Yzerman and including Ken Holland and Doug Armstrong.
“Look at this team. It's a pretty good team,” said Sutter of the lineup, which includes Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares, Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester, Cam Ward, Devan Dubnyk, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a total of 16 players from teams out of the playoffs, with five skaters and a third-string goalie to come from the teams still playing.
Could he end up with Sidney Crosby?
“You never know,” he said.
Lowe said he knows the problems previous managers have had assembling talent, but his phone bill hasn’t been anywhere near as high as others.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said.
Lowe said he’s watching more games in the playoffs than he usually does but it’s not with an eye to who he might pick to fill out the team.
“The playoffs are unbelievable. I’m glued to the TV. I usually watch one a day. I’ve been watching three a day.”
Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones