November 15, 2019

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Hay's second shot at gold

Coach hoping to repeat -- 17 years later

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/12/2011 (2885 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/12/2011 (2885 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

vDon Hay is back in Alberta, the scene of his 1995 Canadian junior triumph with the likes of Jason Allison and Bryan McCabe.

NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS

vDon Hay is back in Alberta, the scene of his 1995 Canadian junior triumph with the likes of Jason Allison and Bryan McCabe.

Asked to describe his coach in three words, Brendan Gallagher almost makes it.

"Competitive, knowledgeable, competitive," says Gallagher, then continues.

"He wants to win more than any other coach."

There is certainly a tirelessness about Don Hay, who coaches Gallagher on both the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants and the Canadian junior men's hockey hockey team.

During practice, Hay moves quickly, covers a lot of ice and continually bangs his stick on the ice. He reacts to his players' successes or failures during drills with a gesture or a grimace.

Seventeen years after coaching Canada to gold at the 1995 world junior championship in Red Deer, Alta., Hay is stepping behind Canada's bench again with the 2012 edition of the team.

Canada opens the world junior championship Sunday in Edmonton versus Finland.

Hay can join Brent Sutter, Craig Hartsburg and Terry Simpson as the only men to coach Canada to gold twice.

Those men did it in back-to-back years. The long interval between Hay's stints is by his own choosing.

A successful junior coach with three Memorial Cup titles, as well as some NHL coaching experience, Hay would have been a leading candidate for the job in recent years if he'd thrown his hat into the ring.

But Hay chose 2012, when the tournament returns to Alberta and the scene of his success in '95.

"Being in Canada first and foremost, I feel comfortable coaching in Canada and in a North American rink," Hay said.

"I still have a passion to coach and I really desired to coach Canada again. I thought it was the right opportunity. I'm not getting any younger."

He may not be, but Hay is a fit 57-year-old. He's an avid runner who enters the Vancouver half-marathon every year. Hay has also not tired of challenging teenage hockey players to become better.

"He loves to see improvements in his players and that I think, along with his conditioning, is why he always seems like he has energy," says Ryan Huska, who is both Hay's assistant coach on the Canadian team and a former player of Hay's on the Kamloops Blazers.

"He really does love teaching kids and young players," Huska continued. "He likes to get them to progress and challenges them to move on to the next level and that's what drives him."

Hay, a former minor pro player, left the Kamloops fire department to join the Blazers coaching staff as an assistant from 1986 to 1992. During that apprenticeship, he was an assistant to current Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney.

"Hay is well organized, well prepared and very thorough," Renney said. "He's very demanding and tough, no question about that, but very fair and equitable in how he treats people.

"There are no hidden agendas. A player doesn't have to leave a conversation with Donny asking himself, 'What did he mean by that?' You're going to get the goods."

Hay became head coach of the Blazers in 1993. After winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1994 and 1995, as well as winning gold at the world juniors in '95, he coached the Phoenix Coyotes to a 38-37-0-7 record and got them into the first round of playoffs in 1996-97. But he was turfed after one season.

— The Canadian Press

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