Former Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins will lead a group of non-NHL players at the Pyeongchang Olympics next February in South Korea.
Longtime Canadian coach Dave King and ex-NHL forwards Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft were named assistants at the Hockey Canada Hall of Champions on Tuesday.
Former NHL goaltenders Sean Burke and Martin Brodeur form Canada’s management team, joining Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney, president and COO of Hockey Canada Scott Smith and Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national men’s teams.
Three months ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman put an end to NHL players’ participation in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang because the International Olympic Committee refused to cover the travel, insurance and hospitality costs.
Desjardins, 60, was fired by the Canucks on April 10 following a second straight missed playoffs.
Under the Climax, Sask., native, Vancouver was 29th in the 30-team NHL in the 2016-17 season with a 30-43-9 record for 69 points, fewest by a Canucks outfit over an 82-game campaign since 1999. In three seasons, Desjardins compiled a 109-110-27 mark.
The Canucks hired him in June 2014 and watched Desjardins guide the club back to the Stanley Cup playoffs the following April after a 48-win regular season.
Before arriving in Vancouver, Desjardins led the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to a Calder Cup championship. He won the AHL’s coach of the year award in 2012-13 when he led the Stars to their first-ever South Division regular season title.
Prior to his AHL tenure, Desjardins spent two seasons as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars from 2010-12. In junior, the ex-Medicine Hat Tigers bench boss was Western Hockey League coach of the year for the 2005-06 season and top coach in the Canadian Hockey League in 2006.
Desjardins’ resume also includes stints on Canada’s staff at two world junior tournaments and one world championship.