Sean Burke is ready to take aim at beating Canada at the World Cup of Hockey.
Burke is part of the scouting staff for Team Europe, along with fellow Canadian Lorne Henning, American Ricky Olczyk, Slovak Peter Bondra and Czech Vaclav Nedomansky. That group, serving under German president Franz Reindl and Slovak general manager Miroslav Satan, is tasked with putting together the tournament's most diverse team.
"I'd love to beat Canada because in this tournament they're going to be the favourite and we want to win the tournament," Burke said. "So that would be incredibly exciting to be able to beat Canada."
Team Europe will consist of players from every European country except Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. It'll have a heavy Slovak and Swiss influence, but expect players from Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, Latvia and maybe even France and Belarus.
"We don't have any country that will be super strong on this team," Satan said. "We'll go by quality, not nationality. That will be our motto for this."
That's certainly the case for the management, scouting and coaching staffs. Canadian Ralph Krueger, who has a wealth of experience coaching overseas, will be behind the bench after helping out Mike Babcock in the Sochi Olympics.
Burke, who's not working in the NHL this season after previously serving as the Arizona Coyotes' goaltending coach, was part of Hockey Canada's gold-medal-winning management group at the world hockey championships and is embracing this new challenge of going against his native country.
"My mother's European, she was born in Germany," Burke said with a laugh. "I don't look at this as anything other than a great opportunity to participate in a tournament that will be remembered for years and years. It's the best players, it's the best management groups, the best coaching groups."
Also on Team Europe's scouting staff are Henning, former general manager of the Vancouver Canucks; Bondra, former GM of the Slovak national team; Olczyk, assistant GM of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Nedomansky, a scout for the Nashville Predators.
"The people we chose for our team, everybody brings something else: former players, Olympic participants and winners and assistant GMs, so it's a great group," Satan said. "I think everybody has a lot of hockey knowledge, and I think as a group we will make strong decisions and our team will be able to compete in this tournament."
Reindl said he was confident in the management group to uphold Team Europe's "mission to survive." Even though it's an amalgamation of players from several different countries, Satan replied, "I think our mission will be to win."
It'll have a much better chance of winning than any of those countries would have solo. Team Europe is expected to include the likes of Slovak defenceman Zdeno Chara, Swiss defenceman Roman Josi, Slovene centre Anze Kopitar, Latvia forward Zemgus Girgensons and Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen.
"There's a lot of good players that they've been in the National Hockey League for a long time and they do well on their clubs and they are leaders, captains," said Bondra, who played 16 NHL seasons, mostly with the Washington Capitals. "I was sitting with (some of) those guys in the same locker-room or playing against them. I think it'll make it, from our standpoint, maybe a little bit easier to find leadership for the team and give our thoughts about each player."
Team Europe will play in Group A at the World Cup next fall along with Canada, the United States and the Czech Republic.
Each team must name its first 16 players by March 1, something Satan doesn't expect to be difficult. He said the final three names will be much more difficult.
Already there have been some players who have forced their way onto the radar.
"I'm sure everybody personally has already these surprises that started very strongly this season and maybe wouldn't be considered before the season but now definitely they are candidates to be on the team, and I have maybe one or two like that already," Satan said.
Satan wouldn't name names, but it's fair to say Danish forward Mikkel Boedker (12 points in 15 games), Danish centre Frans Nielsen (10 points in 16 games) and German centre Leon Draisaitl (seven points in five games) have impressed.
There won't be any kind of national quota, so the staff will be free to pick the team.
"We're not a political decision-making group," Reindl said. "We are selecting a team and we'd like to be fair."
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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press