Woodcroft to skip Olympic trip
UVM men’s hockey head coach had been named to Sweden staff
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - UVM men’s hockey head coach Todd Woodcroft was named to the coaching staff for the Swedish Olympic team back in August, but on Friday, he announced he would no longer make the trip.
“I have a pretty strong history with the Swedish Federation,” Woodcroft said. “I’ve been on their World Cup team. I won a gold medal with them. I helped with their World Junior team. They asked me to come on on the Olympic team, but things have kind of evolved a little bit here where it’s not the right time for me to leave this team (UVM). The wins aren’t there. We do have to win some games. We have to keep that idea of getting better every day. I’m a little bit adverse to the challenges that might happen if I got stuck in China. It’s a risk that right now at this stage of where our team is, I’m not really ready to go. My job as a coach really is to study the rudder. And right now we need someone here to study this rudder and make sure we’re continuing on our improving.”
The 2022 Olympic tournament has been a point of contention in the hockey world, with concerns over the COVID situation and how China plans to handle COVID cases from participants. The NHL was initially planning to send players to compete for their home countries, but walked back that decision about a month ago. But Woodcroft said the lack of NHL talent had nothing to with his decision not to go.
“I actually thought our chances were gonna be great for Sweden, even without the NHL players,” he said. “If we (UVM) would’ve won a whole whack of games in December, this might have been a different conversation, handing it off into the capable hands of (assistant coaches) Steve Wiedler and Scott Moser and Patrick Sharp. We had a couple games where I didn’t really like our 60 minute effort and that’s something that I have to make sure that stays. Naturally, it’s almost like when a substitute teacher comes in: the students, sometimes their foot is off the gas pedal. We cannot afford to take our foot off the gas pedal with the progress that we’re making. It may seem like it’s got glacier speed, but we’re advancing. And I want to make sure that that’s not retreating.”
Though Woodcroft is bowing out of the Olympics, he said he plans to coach international competitions again in the future.
“Even though I wasn’t born in Sweden, I lived there for fun five years,” Woodcroft said. “I have some incredible relationships over there. I really like the Swedish Federation, the people are great. The players are awesome. I’m still friends with so many of the players that we won gold with. I’m proud of that, and I think anytime they ask me to go, I’m gonna go. And I know that for UVM, it’s very helpful. I think if somebody looks, they might not know me and they look up and see our resumes, me with a Swedish Federation or Steve Wiedler with Norwegians or Scott Moser with the Slovaks. I think that’s gonna help down the road for us in recruiting players. We need to find those guys who can score and that player might be somebody in Sweden right now. And maybe his older brother is on the World Championship team. And I happen to be part of that staff, and often I have a positive relationship. That’s how a lot of things work. And I think that we’ll be able to mine those relationships going forward.”
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