May 13, 2007 - Moscow, Russia
Here’s an incredible bit of trivia: By winning the 2007 IIHF World Championship, Canada earned its 24th gold medal, more than any other nation. Canada’s seven Olympic gold medals are also tops (tied with the Soviet Union). But despite Canada’s success from 1920 right up to the present day, only one coach has ever won more than one gold medal - Andy Murray! More incredible, only three other coaches, all Soviets, have ever had more success. The tandem of Arkadi Chernyshev and Anatoli Tarasov won seven World Championship golds between 1963 and 1971 (plus gold at the 1964 and ’68 Olympics); Boris Kulagin won three in the 1970s (with Vsevolod Bobrov as co-coach for two of those wins); and, Viktor Tikhonov won eight gold medals during his illustrious career (1978-92, plus three Olympic gold medals in 1984, ’88, and ’92).
But Murray stands apart from these great men. Under the Soviet system, a coach would train his team for eleven months of the year, preparing exclusively for the Olympics or World Championships year after year. Andy Murray, though, led Canada to gold on three very separate occasions with three completely different rosters—1997, 2003 and 2007.
He was named coach on those occasions first and foremost because he was available (i.e., his NHL team was not in the playoffs), and second because of his abilities and experience. In addition to coaching in the NHL, Murray has coached in Europe and is thoroughly versed in the international game, from the size of the rink to the duties with the media, and everything in between. And herein lies Murray’s “secret formula” - he is great Canadian hockey patriot, with European hockey smarts and shrewdness.
Each time Murray coached Canada, he had perhaps two or three practices before the team’s first game to formulate a style of play, determine line combinations, and select a starting goalie. In short, he coached on the fly. Yet three times he led Canada to gold, giving him the title of most successful coach in Canada’s international hockey history.
When Hockey Canada starts the selection process for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Andy Murray simply must be one of the top candidates. There is definitely no one with a better track record.
As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.
The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.
These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.