Now that Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff has declined the head coaching position for Team Canada at the World Championship, Plan B will have to be quickly devised. The question is, does Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who already accepted a spot on the team as an assistant, get the top job?
Boucher, 40, has plenty of experience with Hockey Canada. He was an assistant to Pat Quinn at the 2009 world junior championship at which Canada won gold. He also was an assistant three times for Canada's under-18 national team, winning gold in 2008. The other assistant that would be considered is Carolina's Kirk Muller.
Boucher would seem a good choice. He is popular in Canada. His communication skills with players and the media are exceptional. And he is a motivator. Granted, the Lightning missed the playoffs this season, but for the most part the team continued to play hard, even after it was clear it was out of the postseason chase and while it worked through the emotions of having three players -- Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie -- traded on three consecutive game days.
It probably doesn't hurt either that Boucher works for Steve Yzerman, the Lightning general manager who is heading Canada's program for the 2014 Olympics but is also part of the management group for the 2012 project. That said, the 2012 team is headed by general manager Kevin Lowe and his aides, Peter Chiarelli and Dave Nonis.
Coaching at the World Championship will be a good testing ground for Boucher. As Canada prepares for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the World Championship is one way both coaches and players will be evaluated, especially as the country has slipped to fourth in the world rankings behind Russia, Finland and Sweden.