The executive board of the Croatian Ice Hockey Association have selected Don MacLean for the spot of Croatian senior representative ahead of the World Championships in Group A of division II, while the assistant coach will be Ivo Ratej Jr., and team manager will be Alan Letang.
Don MacLean (36) is a former Medveščak player, and has spent the past two seasons as the assistant coach to Medveščak's primary team. He was born in Canada, and throughout his playing career he has left a big impression in North America, and can boast that he's been part of five NHL teams (L.A., Toronto, Columbus, Detroit, Phoenix). This is his first time working as the head selector, and was immediately given his first challenging task at hand on the Croatian bench. Ivo Ratej Jr. is three years older than MacLean, and has formerly represented Croatia for years, while having spent the past two seasons as the second assistant coach of Medveščak's primary team.
Alan Letang (37) has been an important feature of Medveščak's defence and also served as their team captain for the past four seasons, while during his professional career - aside from playing in the AHL, DEL, and the Erste Bank Ice Hockey League - has played 14 games in the NHL (Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders).
- I'm happy. It's a great honour and responsibility to be the coach in the senior representation. So far I've only worked on representation in younger categories. I can't forget to mention that Alan Letang will be alongside us. Medveščak's captain will be the representation's team manager, but he's also going to work on the ice with the players. He has a lot of hockey experience behind him - stated Ratej, and announced what awaits the candidates:
- We believe in the players what we have to work with, but we expect them to believe in us too. Preparations begin April 2nd, and a wide spectrum of players will be invited, then after three days of practice we will reduce the number of candidates.
Medveščak's president Damir Gojanović didn't hide his excitement about this move from the HSHL.
- This is a great thing for Croatian hockey. In talks with the president of the Association, it was decided that this is currently the best option. MacLean, Ratej, and Letang have agreed to help out representation and I'm very happy and grateful for that. MacLean was the assistant coach to Medveščak's primary team for the past two seasons, and he won't have a hard time figuring everything out in this new challenge. I believe that he's going to do his job really well because he's an experienced player and assistant coach. Even though he only has two years of coaching experience behind him, throughout those two seasons MacLean was active in making decisions in some situations, and he has a lot of charisma. Of course, he's going to get a lot of help in his job from Ratej and Letang, who is an experienced player and who came to Zagreb for the purpose of helping Croatian hockey.
The coaching tandem will try and get first place in Group A of Division II in the World Championship, which will be held in Zagreb from April 14-20th in the Ice Hall of Dom Sportova. The Croatian representation's opponents will be reps from Australia, Belgium, Iceland, Serbia, and Spain, and only the winner proceeds to the higher ranked Division I Group B.