With more than two decades of experience as an executive and manager in the junior game, Hockey Canada has called on Bruce Hamilton’s expertise to help manage Team Canada’s world junior squad.
The Kelowna Rockets president and GM has been named to a management group that will oversee hockey operations for Hockey Canada’s men’s Program of Excellence. Hamilton, along with Joël Bouchard (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL), Sean Burke (Phoenix, NHL) and Mark Hunter (London, OHL) will work directly with Hockey Canada to oversee operations of Hockey Canada’s world U-20 team as well as its under-17 and under-18 programs.
Hamilton’s immediate role will be to work directly with Canadian junior team head coach Brent Sutter in preparation for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014 in Malmö, Sweden.
“It’s an honour for me to get this opportunity and it’s quite a thrill to be recognized like this,” said Hamilton, 55, the owner, president and general manager of the Rockets, a franchise he started in Tacoma, Wash., in 1991.
Hamilton has led the Rockets to four Memorial Cup appearances, winning the title in 2004 as the host team. Hamilton, originally from Saskatoon, is the WHL’s chairman of the board, a post he has held since 2008 after previously holding the position from 1998 to 2004.
Over the course of the past few months, Hockey Canada, under the leadership of president and CEO Bob Nicholson and COO Scott Smith, did a full overview of the Program of Excellence, which led to the changes and structure being announced Wednesday.
Canada’s entry in the world junior hockey championship hasn’t won a gold medal since 2009 in Ottawa, its last of five consecutive victories.
The management group will be working directly with Hockey Canada vice-president of hockey operations and national teams Brad Pascall (Coquitlam) and senior director of hockey operations and national teams Scott Salmond (Creston) to oversee operations of the under-17, under-18 and under-20 programs.
In addition to the management group, Hockey Canada also announced that Ryan Jankowski (Calgary) has been named head scout of the men’s Program of Excellence, replacing Kevin Prendergast.
Hockey Canada also announced significant changes over the next two seasons to the under-17 program. In 2014-15, the under-17 program will include a first ever national under-17 camp, and will go from five regional teams to three national teams at the 2015 World Under-17 Challenge. In preparation of these changes, Hockey Canada will be hiring a scouting staff for the under-17 program over the coming months.