Letang to coach Canada at world junior hockey championship

Sarnia Sting head coach Alan Letang will go for gold again at the world junior hockey championship after being named a Team Canada assistant coach Wednesday.

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Sarnia Sting head coach Alan Letang will go for gold again at the world junior hockey championship after being named a Team Canada assistant coach Wednesday.

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He was a pre-scout coach at the 2020 world junior championship in the Czech Republic when Canada won gold.

“Obviously I’m pretty excited,” Letang said. “Actually, I was pretty shocked. I thought they were calling to talk to me about Benny (Gaudreau) and see how he was doing and get a report on him.

“It was a nice surprise, especially now that it’s in Canada and my family will get to come out with me and join me.”

The tournament will be played from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Moncton, N.B., and Halifax.

Letang also won gold this summer as an assistant coach on Canada’s national under-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

He’s grateful general manager Dylan Seca, governor David Legwand and the rest of the Sting management are letting him go.

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“It is a commitment on their part, too,” said Letang, 47. “I’m gone for potentially a month, but it’s good. I know the guys here are in good hands with Brad (Staubitz) and Mike Haley, and we’ll be in constant communication. For me, it was a no-brainer. I’m glad the organization supported me in this.”

Letang will miss at least seven games to attend Team Canada’s selection camp and the tournament, but he’s confident the Sting won’t miss a beat under his assistant coaches.

“It’s going to be no different when I’m gone,” he said. “They’ll pick up right where I left off. Guys know them well. Things will be fine.”

Dennis Williams of the Everett Silvertips was named the head coach Wednesday. Stephane Julien of the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes are the other assistant coaches.

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“I know most of the other coaching staff because I’ve worked with them in various Hockey Canada events,” Letang said. “We’re just talking about things to prep so when we get to the camp, it’s not a whole bunch of rush, rush, rush to get stuff done.”

Letang was offered the Team Canada job last week. The coaches are already hard at work.

“There’s tons to do,” he said. “We’ve already had a couple meetings.”

He’s familiar with the Ontario Hockey League players on Hockey Canada’s radar, so he’s been watching videos to learn more about the Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League players. He knows some after coaching at Hockey Canada’s summer camps over the years.

Team Canada will hold training camp in Moncton from Dec. 9 to 12 before the final roster is chosen. The selection camp roster will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We’ve got a big list of kids that we’ll watch – kids that have been through the program before, kids that have been to summer selection (camps),” Letang said. “That’ll slowly get narrowed down in the next probably three to four weeks.”

Letang is in his second season on the Sting’s bench after four seasons with the Owen Sound Attack. His 20-year pro playing career included 14 NHL games.

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