Among the many highlights, Pousse unhesitatingly picks out the 2008 World Championship in Quebec City. “We had three years in the B pool, including that difficult World Championship [Division I] in Amiens; we went to China, to the end of the world, where there was only one journalist, and won promotion,” he said. “Then we went to Quebec and it was such an eye-opener. Very few of the players had experienced anything like it, and we certainly hadn’t.”
Hockey in France was very different back then. Most of the national team was drawn from the domestic league, whereas the majority of players in Copenhagen are playing abroad, gaining greater experience. The local competition is also much improved.
“I’ll find something to do,” he said. “I’d drive my wife nuts if I didn’t do something!
“I’m in touch with the Federation and I’ll just play it by ear for now. In the next couple of months everything will be decided.”
For all the emotion of the final game – and a guard of honour as the French and Swiss teams applauded Henderson and Pousse off the ice – the 66-year-old is confident that this is the right step for the team.
“I think it was a global decision,” he said. “After 14 years I’d gone past retirement age and I think the team needs a change. The decision was made and I think it’s going to be a good decision.”
For Henderson and Pousse, who have worked in tandem since the 1990s, it’s going to be a big change. And for their players, the arrival of the legendary Philippe Bozon, the first French-trained player to reach the NHL, is something new.
“Personally, I was [Henderson’s] player for nine years, and now it’s the end,” said Damien Fleury, who wore the ‘C’ as Henderson took charge of his final game. “It’s tough, but it’s hockey. I just wish them the best, and thanks for everything they did for us.
“As for Bozon, I don’t know. I know him, but I’ve never had him as a coach. I know it’s going to be tough. I know we’re going to work hard. Maybe this is what we’ll need to go to the quarter-final.”