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Desjardins to coach Canada at Olympics

Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, back, stands on the bench behind Michael Chaput, Brandon Sutter and Reid Boucher during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canada has taken the first steps toward trying to win a third consecutive Olympic gold medal, only this time without NHL players.

Hockey Canada on Tuesday named Sean Burke as its general manager and Willie Desjardins as its coach for the 2018 Olympics, the first that will be played without NHL players since 1994. The United States and Canada face arguably the toughest challenge in preparing for Pyeongchang with most of their top off-ice candidates working in North America, where leagues aren't taking an Olympic break.

Canada reached into its development system of executives to tab Burke for the head management job after he served as assistant GM for the 2017 world championships, GM for the 2016 Spengler Cup and Deutschland Cup and director of player development for the 2016 worlds. St. Louis Blues assistant GM Martin Brodeur will work under Burke, perhaps a chance to learn before 2022.

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