After Steve Yzerman led Canada to two Olympic gold medals, it is time for Hockey Canada to groom another successor for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The first guy to get a shot will be former defenseman and Los Angeles assistant GM Rob Blake. He was named by Hockey Canada Wednesday as general manager for the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Minsk, Belarus in May.
He will be assisted by another former NHL player in Ron Hextall, who is currently Philadelphia’s assistant GM. Also on the staff are Phoenix assistant GM Brad Treliving, and longtime Hockey Canada executive Brad Pascall.
“I’ve always been involved with Hockey Canada from Day One,” said Blake to the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve had a good relationship with them from the start and I’m willing to help out whenever asked or whenever needed. It’s always been a good experience for me.”
Hextall previously worked for the Kings and was Blake’s predecessor until heading out east last summer.
The complications the World Championships bring unlike the Olympics is because they take place during the NHL Playoffs and it was also an Olympic year most of the top-named players won’t be named to the roster. For comparison, for the World Championships four years ago they went with a young roster with names such as 18-year-old Evander Kane, 19-year-olds Matt Duchene and John Tavares and 20-year-old Steven Stamkos. And because all three assistant GM’s serve as GM of their AHL affiliate, expect some of the American Hockey League players to get roster consideration should they not be in the Calder Cup Playoffs at the same time.
Blake told the LA Times that if the Kings are still playing when the world tournament begins, he will give priority to them and their AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H. and will direct the Canadian team from North America.