Steve Yzerman constructed the most dominating international team since the days of the Soviet Union. He won back-to-back Golds, and then promptly stepped down from his post as the General Manager of Team Canada. While speaking with the media about his decision, he said that “[i]t’s time to let someone else have a shot at it.”
Since we’re talking about Canada here, there’s always a long list of brilliant hockey minds available. If the NHL decides to send players to the Winter Games in 2018, could St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong be the guy tapped to replace Yzerman?
He got his feet wet as one of the guys in the room this year, and became familiar with how a powerhouse Olympic squad is pieced together. Armstrong was a bit of a face in the crowd though, as he was joined by some monsters of the industry that included Ken Holland and Kevin Lowe.
What Armstrong has going for him that those two possible replacements don’t is that he’s young. He’s actually only a year older than Yzerman, and will be 53 by the time the next Winter Games roll around. Lowe will be 58 and Holland will be 62. Hockey is a bit of an old man’s club when it comes to managers, but if Canada is looking for a steady hand instead of a one-and-done leader, Armstrong could be the guy.
He also has a track record of being a savvy manager that knows how to put teams with four strong lines together. Armstrong has obviously had a lot of success since taking over as St. Louis’ GM in 2010, but he also managed to swing some favorable trades while operating the Dallas Stars. His record at the draft also speaks volumes about his ability to eyeball talent that fits into a scheme.
With ten Olympic players on the Blues, Armstrong obviously has an eye for players that can skate on the biggest stages. It might be a faulty exercise to connect his success in St. Louis with the potential to lead Canada to a three-peat, but it seems like he’d be just as strong of a selection as anyone.
If Hockey Canada decides to go the ex-player route, then another ex-Blues face like Chris Pronger could end up running the show. Within the next six months or so we’ll know whether or not NHLers are going to South Korea. If they are, then keep an eye on Armstrong as a potential replacement for Yzerman.
Especially if the Blues take home the Stanley Cup in the next year or two.
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