Raider bench boss Truitt excited for Team Canada coaching opportunity

Photo by Mark Peterson Media. Raider head coach Jeff Truitt draws up a play during a home game against the Saskatoon Blades earlier this season.

It’s not the first time Jeff Truitt has been on the coaching staff for Team Canada, but the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championships in Switzerland mark the first time he will take on the head coaching role.

Truitt, the current head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, says the team is excited to don the red and white on the international stage.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity. You look forward to working with new players and teaching players in the short-term tournament, (and) you got new staff that you get to work with as well in the management team here. Hockey Canada does such a great job organizing things and supplying you with whatever you need. Guys come in here and they want to work hard for their country and I know they are real focused on getting ready for this tournament. We get a couple exhibition games, but they are really excited to represent their country as we all are.”

Truitt has previously served in coaching roles for Team Canada on four previous occasions. He served as an assistant coach at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and the U18 World Championship in 2007, along with the 2004 and 2005 World Juniors as the team’s video coach.

The coaching staff under Truitt features another pair of head coaches in the Canadian Hockey League. John Dean of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Bruce Richardson of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will serve as assistants on the Canadian coaching staff.

Truitt says he has enjoyed the experience working with both Dean and Richardson.

“It’s great (to have) new thoughts and new terminology and see how they operate in their league and a lot of information sharing. There’s a lot of dialog and planning has gone into this on how we should do practices. It’s been a real good information sharing amongst all of us here.”

Truitt adds that he has gained additional perspective from his assistant coaches.

“It’s really gratifying because you get to work with different people, in hockey there is a little bit of a different terminology and coming to a common area or common goal where you want to go teach players the right way. And sometimes when you don’t get outside of your coaching group, everybody’s thinking on the same page. Now this is all brand new and new ideas, so it has been great in that way.”

The 10 day tournament begins on Thursday, Apr. 20 when Canada opens up against Sweden at the Raiffeisen Arena in Porrentruy, Switzerland.

Truitt says Canada will have to unite as a team quickly before they begin tournament play.

“Forming a team is very gratifying. When you bring a new group together and teach new things or teach things that perhaps they didn’t do with their own teams, you have got to come in with a plan yourself. And this is how we have to play and deliver that message to the guys. Not only in the Western Hockey League, where you form your system, your execution and your culture, It’s the same thing here, just on an accelerated pace. And these guys have been really great about accepting information, sharing themselves with each other, representing our country. And I know that they’re all really excited about getting this thing going.”

Truitt says he is looking forward to making memories representing Canada.

“For me, it’s all about the teaching, the relationships and making sure that these kids are having a good experience over here. It’s a memory that they’re going to have for a long time. Not only for the players, but for all us staff as well.”