The IIHF World Championship will begin next month in Finland, and former New York Rangers head coach David Quinn is set to lead the U.S. squad. Today, his staff has been announced, with Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings, Don Granato of the Buffalo Sabres, and Mike Hastings from Minnesota State University joining as assistants.
Blashill, head coach of the Red Wings for the last seven years, was actually head coach of the men’s national team at three previous World Championships. He also has experience with USA Hockey at the U18 and U20 levels and stops in both the AHL and NCAA. Several players that he is familiar with, including most prominently Dylan Larkin, could be in play for the U.S. at the event, as the Red Wings are set to miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
Granato, who took over as the head coach of the Sabres last season, has received many accolades for his work turning the team around. While they won’t reach the playoffs this year, huge developmental steps have been taken from several players. One of those is Tage Thompson, who could play a significant role if selected for the U.S. squad, along with several of his Sabres teammates.
Hastings meanwhile is the lone assistant from outside of the NHL, coming to the Worlds after leading his Minnesota State Mavericks all the way to the national championship game this year. Hastings has been with the program for a decade and helped turn it into one of the most dominant teams in the NCAA, posting winning percentages above .800 in each of the last three years. Nathan Smith, the Mavericks standout who recently debuted with the Arizona Coyotes seems a likely candidate for the team if they so choose, after his outstanding junior season. Dryden McKay, winner of the Hobey Baker and a Mavericks legend, could also be in the mix, depending on the team’s goaltending situation.
The tournament begins on May 13 in Tampere and Helsinki.