Otters’ Knoblauch to return as assistant with Canadian National Junior Team
CALGARY, Alta. – A group of familiar faces will lead Canada’s National Junior Team into the 2017-18 season and the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.
Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Policy Committee, comprised of Hockey Canada Board chairman Joe Drago (Sudbury, Ont.), Hockey Canada president and chief executive officer Tom Renney, Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith, OHL commissioner and CHL president David Branch, QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau and WHL commissioner Ron Robison, has announced that the entire coaching staff of Canada’s 2016-17 National Junior Team has been retained for the 2017-18 season, including the World Junior Championship. Joël Bouchard (Montreal/Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) will also continue as the Program of Excellence management group lead for Canada’s National Junior Team next season. Bouchard and Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations and national teams, confirmed that Dominique Ducharme (Joliette, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) would be reprising his role behind the bench as head coach.
Ducharme is returning to Canada’s National Junior Team coaching staff for the third consecutive year, having acted as assistant coach in 2015-16 and head coach in 2016-17. Rounding out the coaching staff are returning assistant coaches, Tim Hunter (Calgary/Moose Jaw, WHL) and Kris Knoblauch (Regina/Erie, OHL).
The group helped lead Team Canada to a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in January.
“This is a very unique opportunity to return an entire coaching staff that came within a shot of winning gold last year,” said Salmond. “The Program of Excellence Policy Committee unanimously agreed that it was in the best interest of the program to keep this coaching staff together and that their experience will provide us the best opportunity of winning gold in 2018.”
Bouchard has been a member of the POE management group since 2013. He has been president and general manager of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for the past six seasons, and took over as head coach in August 2014 after three seasons as an assistant coach. The Montreal native played 15 professional seasons, including parts of 11 seasons in the National Hockey League with eight teams. As a player, Bouchard made three appearances with Team Canada, winning gold each time.
Ducharme’s coaching experience with Hockey Canada also includes winning gold with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament. He is coming off his first season as head coach and general manager of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, a position he took after leaving the Halifax Mooseheads, who he led to their first-ever Memorial Cup championship in 2013. Ducharme played professionally from 1995 to 2002 in the ECHL, AHL, and in Europe.
Hunter won a bronze medal as head coach of Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship, and is in his third season as head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Before joining the Warriors, Hunter coached more than 1,000 games over 14 seasons in the NHL as an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, and San Jose Sharks. As a player he appeared in 815 NHL games over 16 seasons with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, and Sharks, and won the Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989.
Knoblauch has coached in the Canadian Hockey League since the 2006-07 season, spending his first six seasons in the WHL – first as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders, then in the same role with the Kootenay Ice until taking over as head coach in 2010. As head coach, Knoblauch led the Ice to their third WHL championship in 2011 and first Memorial Cup appearance since 2002. In 2012-13, Knoblauch was hired by the OHL’s Erie Otters as head coach where he has since been awarded the Matt Leyden Trophy as OHL coach of the year. Knoblauch was also head coach of Team Canada Red at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.