London 2012 - Yzerman to lead Canada hockey team

Mon, 05 Mar 23:08:00 2012

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who assembled Canada's gold medal winning men's hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics, will return to the job for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Team Canada's general manager Steve Yzerman stands in front of players' pictures during the announcement of Canada's Olympic men's hockey team in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - 0

But while Yzerman has committed himself to Sochi, the NHL has yet to decide whether it will remain part of the Olympics and shutdown mid-season to free up players for national team duty.

"Hockey Canada hopes that NHL players will be playing in Russia in the 2014 Olympics but it is not Hockey Canada's decision," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said.

"It's a decision that will be made by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association through their collective bargaining agreement."

The NHL's participation in Sochi will be one of the items on the table when NHL owners and players sit down to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement when the current deal set to expire on September 15.

Players have indicated they want to be part of the Winter Games but NHL owners are less enthusiastic.

The owners want a greater say in the way the Olympic tournament is run and have numerous other concerns, ranging from lost revenue to player injuries.

Even if the NHL decides not to take part in Sochi, Yzerman and his management team will be in charge of icing a Canadian squad in 2014.

"Last night and today I had very good, positive discussions with (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman and (NHLPA executive director) Don Fehr and letting them know we are doing this so that we are prepared for this year's world championship and leading into the Olympic Games," Nicholson said.

"If NHL players aren't in the Olympics, these gentlemen will still help us put together a plan for us to be successful."

Yzerman, a Hall of Fame player who won an Olympic gold with Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, will be pulling double duty in Russia, something he did not do in Vancouver.

When Yzerman was appointed Team Canada's executive director for the 2010 Olympics he was an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings but has since moved into a general manager's position with the Lightning.

"The opportunity to work with Hockey Canada again is something I am really excited about," said Yzerman.

"I really enjoyed the experience in the past and look forward to the next few years and hopefully all goes well and National Hockey League players will be participating in Sochi as well."

With or without NHL players, Canada's preparation for the Sochi Olympics begins immediately.

Canada currently sits fourth in the world rankings and will be looking to improve on that position with a strong performance at this year's world championships, co-hosted by Finland and Sweden, in order to secure a higher seeding for the Sochi.

Canada has not won the world championships since 2007.


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