LTU: Lithuania hires new head coach from the NHL

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Daniel Lacroix is the new head coach who has been hired directly from the NHL for Lithuania’s hockey.

In view of the forthcoming IIHF World Championship in DIV IA in Kazakhstan next year, the main topic in the Lithuanian Ice Hockey Federation was the search for a new coaching team. In the summer all contracts ended and were not renewed. The new president of the Lithuanian Ice Hockey Federation, Dainius Zubrus, set out to find a new coaching team for the national team.

„After expiring the previous contracts, I had the task of finding the right man, who will lead the team in the coming years. Therefore, there will be a significant change in the national team. It was decided to put together a new coaching team and start a new era of the national team. The position of the head coach should be filled with an active expert in order to inspire the team with new ideas“, Zubrus argued the situation in Lithuania.

It was therefore decided in the presidium that Zubrus should contact potential candidates and hold talks. Zubrus met with five candidates from Belarus, Finland, Switzerland and Canada. After evaluating their visions and ideas for long-term cooperation, Daniel Lacroix was unanimously elected as the new Lithuanian head coach by the presidium.

The 49-year-old Canadian worked as an assistant coach for a total of 11 years in the NHL at both New York teams, Islanders and Rangers, Tampa Bay and the last four years in Montreal. Prior to joining the NHL to work as a coach, Lacroix was in one of Canada’s strongest youth leagues – QMJHL, where he worked successfully for five seasons at Montcon Wildcats as co-trainer and head coach half. Here he had contributed to many long-standing NHL players in their development. Among them are u.a. Corey Crawford, Steve Bernier, Brad Marchand, Keith Yandle and Jason Demers are some of the players who have been involved in the NHL for a long time. Before Lacroix went into the coach business, he was active as a player in the AHL. He also graduated in the NHL more than 200 games u.a. for Edmonton, New York (both teams), Philadelphia and Boston.

The new coach was initially equipped with a one-year contract. If both sides appreciate the cooperation and the expectations are met, an option for renewal is possible. The first test of the new trainer will take place in Lithuania: from the 8th to the 11th of November at the „Baltic Cup“ in the „Entertainment“ Arena in Vilnius.

The new coach already has two assistants – a team of the well-known Lithuanian Sharun Kuliusiai and Arūnas Aleinikovas. Both expressed their willingness to work in a team with a new Canadian specialist and also supported the decision to offer them a continuation of their duties. It has also been agreed that Lacroix will choose the co-trainer itself, which will be announced in the coming days. In the near future, the team coaching team will be complemented by another expert who will take on the role of video analyst.

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