ALBERTON — The jump from assistant coach to head coach of Canada’s national junior men’s hockey team isn’t a big one, admits Kildare Capes summer resident Dave Cameron.
There is one major difference though.
“I’ve got to do so many interviews now,” he commented. “The last couple of years, (as an assistant coach), I was involved in all of the coaching decisions and that, but it’s the head guy who has to go out and do all the media stuff.”
As for picking the team, “things are basically done by committee,” he said. Cameron, his three assistant coaches and Hockey Canada staff evaluated prospects during a Summer Camp in St. John’s, N.L., last week. Starting in mid-October, they will hold weekly conference calls to report on how the prospects, and anyone else who suddenly shows promise, are performing in their respective leagues.
Final team selections for the world junior tournament, which opens Boxing Day in Buffalo, N.Y., will be made in early December.
The biggest thing about the summer camp, said Cameron, is getting to know the players from the other leagues.
As head coach and general manager of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Cameron was already quite familiar with prospects from the Ontario Hockey League.
The camp helped extend his focus to prospects from the Quebec and Western leagues.
“It’s the whole start of the evaluation process,” he said, pointing out he was pleased with what he saw.
“Now that I’ve seen the core group that’s going to make my world junior team, I’ll do some work on that in terms of what kind of system I hope to play, and I’ll always be tinkering at that,” he said. “It’s not like you’re re-inventing the wheel.”
There was only one down side to the camp, joked Cameron.
“It signalled that summer was over.”
It’s hockey full-tilt for Cameron from now until the end of May. He has to get the Majors ready for what’s bound to be a busy and exciting season. The Majors will host the Memorial Cup in May, and the onus is on Cameron to make sure his team has a legitimate shot at winning Canada’s junior hockey championship.
“Our season will be longer, but the onus on winning, or the onus on having a good team - that’s always in place,” stressed Cameron. “This is a very competitive league.”