Dave King is here! His presence gives the experienced hockey analyst the comforting feeling of eternal youth. Time has come to a halt - Dave King is still around. This time as an Associate Coach for Team Canada at this year’s Spengler Cup.
Dave King, not to be confused with the rock stars, actors or singers of the same name, was part of the ice-hockey dynasty at the University of Saskatchewan in 1972. He still belongs to this dynasty. In 1982, he led the Canadians to the U20 World Championship title and as of 1983, he is considered the “Ralph Krueger of Canadian hockey”. King guided the Canadian National Team up until and including the Olympic Games of 1992 in Albertville/France. Dave King personified the Hockey Federation program for the Canadian National Team. Even though ice-hockey is very popular in Canada – even being recognized as the national sport in the constitution – it is still hard to get the proper financing for the National Teams. All the attention is focused on the NHL, Stanley Cup Play-Offs and the three largest junior leagues. Team Canada at the World Championships? Oh well, that’s nice. But let’s get back to discussing great hockey.
Although Dave King was unable to achieve an historic triumph, he still brought home silver three times – at the World Championships in 1989 and 1991 as well as at the Olympics in 1992. The Canadian is familiar with Davos not only due to the Spengler Cup. In January of 1992, he prepared his Canadian Team in Davos for the Olympics in Albertville. A member of this team was the Superstar Eric Lindros who refused to play for his NHL Team in Quebec and was therefore free to join the National Team.
By the early 1990’s Dave King is already considered a legend, and he first transferred to the NHL (Calgary) for three years. To this day, he has been an Assistant or Head Coach for Montreal, Columbus and lastly with Phoenix. During that entire time, he was continually pulled into the wide world of hockey – to Germany (Hamburg, Mannheim), Sweden (Malmö) and even to Japan where he was the National Team Coach for a season in 1995/1996. Detailing his experiences with Magnitogorsk, he wrote a read-worthy book (“King of Russia”). Following 1982, he was not to reach another great triumph such as a World Championship title or a National Championship but did triumph with Magnitogorsk at the Spengler Cup in 2005.
It is not the titles or triumphs that has shaped this great career. There has been many a coach who has celebrated their titles and triumphs but only a few who have inspired so many or has done so much for ice-hockey as Dave King has done. Deservedly, Dave King has already been inducted into the Canadian ice-hockey Hall of Fame and has been awarded the “Order of Canada”. This is the highest honor that a Canadian civilian can receive.
Dave King is now 68 years-old – and returning to the Spengler Cup. He has said, that he could have had a contemplative life under the sun in Phoenix. A bit of golf, a bit of consulting for the local NHL club, but the Canadians have once again called him. “And I just couldn’t turn them down.” It is still unknown if the NHL professionals will participate at the next Olympics. Therefore, the Canadians are preparing Plan-B - a Canadian National Team without the NHL professionals. The German Cup was used as a testing ground. The Spengler Cup is another such test to show what a National Team without NHL professionals is capable of. No one, and I mean no one, is more qualified than Dave King to manage this program. Once again, he is on a mission and it most certainly seems that time has come to a standstill – only difference being that his hair has turned white in the meantime. Apart from that, he still exudes the same contagious optimism as he did when he began his career 40 years ago.
Text: SLAPSHOT/Klaus Zaugg