LEWISTON – Get a haircut, shave your face and be prepared to eat, sleep and breathe in synchronization with 25 other human beings for a month.

For the Canadian national junior hockey team, it took all of that and a lot more to win gold for a second consecutive year.

But, under the direction of head coach Brent Sutter, the underdog Canadians did it. Lewiston Maineiacs head coach Clem Jodoin was there as an assistant coach to Sutter.

“It started the first day,” said Jodoin. “Rule No. 1 was get a haircut. Rule No. 2, no facial hair. They had to do it, they had to represent their country, and they had to be gentlemen first. From there we had some more little things. It was like a boot camp.”

After Tuesday’s Maineiacs’ practice, the team’s first at home since the tournament, Jodoin walked up to a small group of folks still at the Colisee and reached into his pocket. As he pulled his hand out, a blue and gold ribbon, slightly bent in a few places, unfurled toward the floor. In his hand, Jodoin clutched a gold medal.

His gold medal.

“We didn’t have probably the most talented team, and we probably didn’t have all the best players in the league, in the whole CHL, but we had the right warriors,” said Jodoin. “Everybody was on the same page, everyone was intensity.”

Everyone including the coaches, who took little time to sightsee or even fraternize with their own families on their month-long stay in Vancouver.

“It wasn’t a holiday,” said Jodoin. “There was a lot of preparation, a lot of analysis, a lot of discussions, meetings, and after that we had to play. In Canada, you’ve got to win. I’m not saying that because it’s not like that in the states, but you’ve got to win. The object, the goal is always the gold medal.”

The gold came seemingly easily to the Canadians last year, and this year they were considered severe underdogs to a loaded United States team. Russia was also considered a better team.

“We were staying at the hotel, we had a tower where we were isolated from everybody,” said Jodoin. “The parents, they didn’t stay in the same hotel. My family didn’t stay with me when I was there. It was very much like a boot camp. We had to be focused for every game.”

To that end, the players were bound together.

“Everybody had to be focused,” said Jodoin. “We were staying away from the action everywhere. When we went the first week, if the players wanted to see a movie, they had to go as a team. If they wanted to go out and do some shopping, they had to go as a team. Everything was with the team. Nobody was by himself, for the whole month.”

Jodoin has been on a big stage before. For several years, he was an assistant coach in the NHL, and he had been a coach with the men’s national team in Germany and Sweden, and with the Under-18 team in Russia. This was his first experience, though, with this tournament.

“The World Juniors, it’s like a Stanley Cup on the amateur level,” said Jodoin. “It was a great feeling, a great, great feeling to win.”

The lingering question now is whether he will be asked back next season, perhaps as the head coach.

“You ask me that question right now, it would be no,” said Jodoin. “But let’s wait. Let’s wait to see what kind of season we’re going to have here. Ed and Jeff did a great job when I left. Like I said, the best sign of a good company is the quality of the employees. I think we have good coaches here, and I wasn’t worried. Two years ago, I did refuse to go to the World Juniors, not that I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t know the organization well enough, I didn’t know my staff yet. This year, I took it and next year, if I have to go back with the same staff here, why not?”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.