Louis Robitaille named head coach, Alan Letang and Dennis Williams named assistants
CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada has recognized 46 of the country’s top under-18 players that were invited to attend Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team selection camp, as well as the coaching staff for the camp and 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Six goaltenders, 14 defencemen and 26 forwards were set to compete for a chance to represent Canada at the 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which was scheduled for Aug. 3-8 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., before it was cancelled April 28 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The camp roster featured 42 players who played for Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red or Team Canada White at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask., last November.
In addition, Louis Robitaille (Montreal, Que./Gatineau, QMJHL) was to take the reins behind the bench as head coach, while Alan Letang (Renfrew, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) and Dennis Williams (Stratford, Ont./Everett, WHL) were to serve as assistant coaches.
“It is important for Hockey Canada to recognize the work the players and coaching staff already put in to prepare for the summer and a chance to compete for gold on home ice,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada. “It was a difficult decision to cancel the tournament, as it provides the opportunity to showcase the top under-18 players in a best-on-best international showcase. We want to recognize the 46 players and our three coaches for this tremendous accomplishment, and we look forward to watching all players continue to develop as they look ahead to next season and a chance to compete at the IIHF U18 World Championship.”
Robitaille was named head coach and general manager of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) on April 8 after spending four seasons (2016-20) as head coach of the Victoriaville Tigres. He also spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Drummondville Voltigeurs (2011-15) and Val-d’Or Foreurs (2015-16). Robitaille was the head coach of Team Canada Red (2018) and an assistant coach with Team Canada Black (2017) at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and won a bronze medal as an assistant coach at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship.
Letang was named head coach of the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in January 2019 after joining the team as an assistant coach in 2016. He also spent two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant with Medvescak Zagreb in the KHL following an 18-year pro career. Letang won a gold medal as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and, as a player, helped Canada’s National Men’s Team win the 1998 Spengler Cup, along with a bronze medal at the 2006 Deutschland Cup.
Williams is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He has led the Silvertips to two U.S. Division titles and was named WHL Western Conference Coach of the Year in 2017-18. Williams won a silver medal as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and served as head coach of Team Canada Black at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
With the cancellation of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, focus will now turn to the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship next spring; a host city has not yet been announced. The Czech Republic and Slovakia will host the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup before it returns to Edmonton and Red Deer in 2022.