Former North Dakota coach Dean Blais will serve as head coach of the 2010 U.S. World Junior team, USA Hockey announced Thursday.
Blais, the coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force, also coached the 1994 U.S. World Junior team.
“I’m honored to be selected to coach this team,” Blais said in a news release. “The World Junior Championship has evolved into one of the great events on the hockey calendar every year and I look forward to the challenge ahead.”
The World Juniors is scheduled for Dec. 26, 2009, to Jan. 5, 2010, in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan.
Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations, will be the team’s general manager. Former Yale coach Tim Taylor will be its director of player personnel.
USA Hockey is venturing outside its National Team Development Program for a World Junior coach for the first time since 2006, when Northern Michigan’s Walt Kyle led the team.
Ron Rolston coached in 2007 and 2009, and John Hynes coached in 2008. Both are coaches at the NTDP.
The Americans have slipped in the tournament since winning their only gold medal under Wisconsin’s Mike Eaves in 2004. They finished fourth in 2005 and 2006, third in 2007, fourth again in 2008 and fifth last season.
Blais, last season’s USHL coach of the year in the Force’s first year of play, was originally scheduled to coach the team in 2005 before he took a job as the associate head coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
He led North Dakota to two national championships in a 10-year stint that started in 1994.
“Dean Blais has been successful at every level and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him coach our team in the upcoming World Junior Championship,” USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said in a news release.
Said Johannson: “Dean is without question one of the game’s elite coaches. His teams are always well prepared and he brings an enthusiasm to the rink that rubs off on everyone around him.”