DETROIT (Reuters) - Detroit Red Wings vice-president Steve Yzerman was handed the task of assembling the Canadian men’s hockey team for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when he was named Team Canada executive director on Saturday.
Yzerman takes over from Canadian hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, who headed up Canada’s efforts at the 2006 Turin and 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
”I‘m really excited about the opportunity,“ Yzerman told reporters during a conference call. ”I would stress to everyone what a great challenge we have ahead of us...
”The tremendous players around the world... by no means because we’re playing on home ice is a gold medal a lock.
“Our goal is to obviously win a gold medal and we’ll do everything we can as a group to assemble an outstanding coaching staff and an outstanding team.”
Hockey Canada also announced at a news conference in Ottawa that Detroit general manager Ken Holland and Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe will serve as associate directors.
St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Doug Armstrong will be director of player personnel while Gretzky, coach and co-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, will take an advisory role.
The challenge facing Yzerman and his staff is daunting.
Hockey-mad Canadians expect nothing short of gold from their Olympic teams and the expectations and pressure will be even greater on home ice.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us and this is the first major step for Team Canada,” said Hockey Canada’s president and CEO Bob Nicholson.
”Hockey Canada is going to Vancouver to make all Canadians proud in 2010 and Steve is just the person to lead us.
“He has served this country whenever called upon and we are thrilled he will be leading our men’s Olympic team in 2010.”
A former Red Wings great who led Detroit to three Stanley Cups, Yzerman played in two Olympics and was in the 2002 team that beat the U.S. to end a 50-year gold medal drought.
Since retiring in 2006, he has moved into the Red Wings front office and was Canada’s general manager at the last two world championships, winning a gold and silver while posting a record of 17-1.
Editing by Ken Ferris