If Team Canada is to win its third consecutive Olympic gold medal, it’ll have to do so without executive director Steve Yzerman.
The Tampa Bay Lightning GM announced he was resigning from his part-time job on Sunday, leaving a gaping vacancy. Which prompts the obvious question: who’ll take his place?
The decision will depend on myriad factors, most notably the NHL’s participation in South Korea. If it opts out, and the position becomes less glamorous, the candidate list changes.
And what about Hockey Canada’s philosophy of hiring a Hall-of-Fame calibre player as its Olympic face? Wayne Gretzky, of course, preceded Yzerman at Nagano, Salt Lake City and Turin. There are strong suggestions Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson will replace Rene Fasel as president of the International Ice Hockey Federation. If that happens, what will the impact be on the direction of the Canadian Olympic program, if any?
Assuming the NHL does go in 2018 and Hockey Canada sticks to its current template, and doesn’t turn to one of Yzerman’s lieutenant’s such as Ken Holland or Peter Chiarelli, here are five names they could consider to spearhead the thrust for a natural hat trick of gold medals.
1. Chris Pronger. A sharp, decisive mind and a student of the game. Not afraid make tough decisions. And he’s good with the media. He doesn’t have any on-the-job experience yet, but if surrounded with the right army of hockey people, he could be a strong leader.
2. Joe Sakic. Respect wouldn’t be an issue. Everyone defers to Joe. And he’s getting a sense of what it takes to manage a team as Colorado’s executive director of hockey operations.
3. Brendan Shanahan. Yes, he already has a high-profile job, but it’s one he won’t do forever, particularly given the nature of it. If he went from being the NHL’s chief disciplinarian to Team Canada, he’d be jumping out of a frying pan into another hot skillet, but one with far more appetizing rewards.
4. Mark Messier. His ascension to the ranks of upper management has been slower than expected, but he’s still widely regarded as an authoritative leader. When he talks, everyone listens.
5. Martin Brodeur. He hasn’t yet retired, but that day isn’t too far away. And he’s gone on record saying that if he stays in hockey, it’d be in a managerial capacity, not coaching. You’d have to think he’d have learned a thing or two about running a tight ship from Lou Lamoriello over all these years.
Other options: Cam Neely, Scott Niedermayer, Doug Gilmour.