He represented Canada many times in international competition - nine to be exact - but this time, Rob Blake will be making his debut for Team Canada in the front office. On Wednesday, the former Kings' defenseman and current assistant GM for the team was named general manager of Team Canada for the upcoming World Championship.
In addition to Blake, three names were chosen as assistants with one of those being the man Blake took over from in Los Angeles, Ron Hextall. Like Blake, Hextall, the current assistant GM of the Philadelphia Flyers, will be making his international front-office debut. Blake's other two assistants will be Brad Treliving of the Phoenix Coyotes and Brad Pascall of Hockey Canada.
While the coaches have yet to be announced, former NHLer Steve Staios will join the Team Canada staff as management staff's director of player development and assist the coaching staff on the ice during the tournament.
For Rob Blake, this should be quite the test and a wonderful opportunity at the same time. Team Canada enters this year's version of the tournament having not won gold since 2007 and not finishing on the podium since 2009 when they settled for silver. Being that this was an Olympic year, though, the Canadians should have a great pick of young talent who were able to get enough rest during the two-week break in February. Also, with Blake, Hextall and Treliving in charge of their NHL team's respective AHL affiliates, the three have strengths in scouting and evaluating young talent. With that said, it should be interesting to see how Canada shapes up the roster within the next few weeks, especially with the NHL's playoff picture getting clearer by the day.
With all due respect to this tournament, the World Championship are essentially looked at a consolation prize of sorts. The participating countries acquire talent for this tournament when their professional either miss the playoffs or get eliminated early in the playoffs. In this case, I sincerely hope Rob Blake doesn't have to scout any players in his own organization, especially the Los Angeles Kings who, as most every fan would agree, will be much too busy focusing on winning another Stanley Cup.
Regardless of how anyone feels about this tournament, I wish congratulations and the best of luck to Rob Blake and his staff in Minsk, Belarus where the 2014 World Championship will take place from May 9-25.
I certainly hope - and believe - that Rob Blake can make the Los Angeles Kings proud.