CALGARY, AB -- Willie Desjardins of Calgary has been named assistant coach of Canada's National Men's hockey team, general manager and head coach Mike Johnston announced Tuesday.
Desjardins joins Team Canada from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, where he was head coach last season. He brings a varied background - both as a player and coach - to his new position. For two seasons - 1994- 95 - 1995-96, Desjardins was head coach of the Seibu Ice Hockey Team in Japan.
As head coach of the University of Calgary from 1989-94, Desjardins piloted the Dinosaurs to two Canada West University Athletic Association (CWUAA) championships and compiled a .682 winning percentage. He had served as assistant coach with the Dinosaurs from 1985-89.
As a player, Desjardins was a member of the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League from 1974-76 and played one season in Sapporo, Japan. He returned from that experience to play four years for the University of Saskatchewan, who won the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championship in 1982. Desjardins, the Huskies' team captain, was the playoff Most Valuable Player that year.
Desjardins, who holds Bachelor's degrees in education and social work, as well as a Master of Social
Work from the University of Calgary, has achieved both Level III theory and technical components under the National Coaching Certification Program.
"Willie Desjardins' blend of major junior, university and international experience, as well as his well-established coaching credentials, made him a very appealing candidate for the assistant coaching position with our National Team," said Johnston, an associate coach with the National Team the past two years who begins his first season as head coach in September. "I'm very much looking forward to working with Willie and believe he'll really help our players develop, which is a key raison d'etre of the National Team."
Desjardins, who played for longtime National and Olympic Team coach Dave King, said working for Canada's National Team was a logical part of his career path.
"Dave King was a bit of a mentor for me and he went the National Team route, so it's always been something I have wanted to get the opportunity to do," said Desjardins. "Now that it's come about, I'm very excited about working for Team Canada."
Canada's National Team represents Canada at major international tournaments, such as Izvestia, in Moscow, the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland and the Sweden Games in Stockholm. As well, the team tours small-town Canada, bringing top-flight international competition to communities across the country, as well as coaching, trainer's and officiating clinics. Owing to a schedule that includes two- to three-week training blocks, along with games against National Teams from around the world, the experience helps players focus intensively on skill development in order to enhance their professional career aspirations.