Canadian coaches rarely beat Canada 
by Andrew Podnieks|17 MAY 2022
Sean Simpson is talking to the Swiss players during their historical win against Canada at the 2010 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
When Canada defeated Slovakia on Monday afternoon by a 5-1 score, it marked another in a series of losses for a Canadian coach behind the bench of a team other than Canada. Indeed, Craig Ramsay has been Slovakia’s coach since 2018 and has done a fantastic job, but he is now 0-2 against his birth country in World Championship play.

He is not alone.

Probably the most successful Canadian coach abroad was Ralph Krueger with Switzerland. He brought the team to new-found respectability after it was promoted to the top division for 1998, and he remained the coach for 12 years, 1998-2010. But during that time he was 0-7 against Canada. He was succeeded by another Canuck, Sean Simpson for five years and then Glen Hanlon for one. Hanlon was 0-1, but Simpson managed to win twice in four games, making him the most successful Canadian coach against Canada.

Speaking of Hanlon, he faced Canada only one other time during his years with Slovakia and Belarus, losing in 2009.

Bob Hartley has been coaching Latvia since 2017 and has faced Canada only twice, losing the first and then winning in 2021, the nation’s first ever win over Canada at any level of IIHF competition. Ted Nolan had been Latvia’s coach for the period 2012-14, but he never faced Canada during those years. 

George Kingston moved around Europe. He coached Norway in 1990 and lost to Canada, 9-0. He later coached Germany from 1995-98 and lost to Canada in ‘95 but beat them a year later, 5-1.

One of the most peripatetic Canadians behind the bench was Pat Cortina. He variously coached Italy, Hungary, and Germany at the men’s Worlds. He has an 0-4 record versus Canada, losing as Italy’s coach twice, and one with Hungary and Germany.

Steve Tsujiura lost his only game behind the Japan bench, in 2000. Rick Cornacchia was 0-1 with Italy, in 2010, and Rich Chernomaz 0-1 with Hungary in 2016. Dave Henderson was France’s head coach for 11 years (2008-18), during which time he faced his mother country six times, winning but once, in 2014, in a penalty-shot shootout.

Dave Lewis coached Belarus in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Each year they played Canada, and each year they lost, not even scoring a single goal.

Austria has frequently hired a Canadian for the bench, but despite some successes there was nothing to be had from games against Canada. Ken Tyler went 0-3 in the period 1993-96, Ron Kennedy lost in 1998, and Dan Ratushny in 2015. In all, 0-5.

Of course, the asterisk is that the European teams that hire Canadians are lacking experienced men of their own, so these nations have little chance of beating Canada regardless who is coaching. Conversely, the top nations like Finland and Sweden, who hired Canadians in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, no longer need outside help. 

Canadian coaches will continue to help promote the game across the world – just don’t expect them to beat their homeland very often!