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INTERVIEW : The new Canadian era with Andrei Savu and Charles Savard

Published on 8th February 2023

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It is with only two players from the last world championships and a new coach that the Canadian Men’s Elite Team is preparing for the World Championships in Australia this summer. Interview with Charles Savard, one of the two remaining players and captain of the team, and Andrei Savu, Canadian coach since the end of 2021.

Charles, what do you remember about the ninth place in Quebec in 2018 ?

Honestly, it’s an heart-breaking memory for us because we expected a better result but it was also super exciting to be part of that team, to host Worlds in Québec City which is where I live. We thought that we could have been in the top eight and we’re barely there. We finished ninth, which was the same result we had in South Africa two years before. So we did expect to do better.

There are only two of you from the 2018 team, how does it feel to be starting with a brand new group ?

To me, it’s exciting to have a new group. I wish we had a bigger core group that have more experience but we still have guys who have experience in the Junior competitions. Being in a leadership position with them, it’s super exciting because I get to have impact on where we are aiming to go and in the ways we’re going to do it as well. And one of my personal goal is that, this year, we can build a strong core group that will be in this process for many years. So I hope that for the next worlds, we’re going to have a bigger core group.

For you Andrei, was it a desire to start with a majority of new players ?

I think it’s also just the players that are able to play because it is in Australia, this particular championship. So perhaps some of the older players weren’t able to get there this year. With COVID as well, life situations have changed. So I think it affected a lot of players that were perhaps considering going before, but then were not able to go after 2020, when the current championship was supposed to happen initially.

We have younger players and honestly, I actually appreciate the fact that they’re younger and less experienced because they’re like sponges. Since we started this process, the whole team have improved tremendously and it’s been so fun to build it up together with them, because I feel they all have a much deeper sense of ownership of the team. If you have a core of 7-8 guys that were in the team before and then you bring in a few new players … Those new players, it’s a lot harder for them to assimilate into the team and to feel like they own that team as well. With the majority of the players being new, they are all coming together at pretty much the same level. They have a couple of players that they look up to and then they just come together, solidify as a team, and that’s exactly what’s happened. So it’s been a really great process.

How did you become Canada’s coach ?

We had some meetings initially and at the end of 2021, we had our first event in March of 2022. I’ve been playing for a long time but I’ve always coached but never an Elite team, nonetheless it was one of my goal. When the opportunity to apply came up, I jumped at it. I didn’t really know what to expect because I didn’t know who the other potential coaches were. But I was very happy to get the opportunity to do this. And I think that it’s actually in my benefit that it is a development team. We can all work together as a team rather than having players with expectations already and perhaps opinion that would be counterproductive to the actual betterment of the team.

What are your projects with this team ?

It comes down to really building up each player individually, because the’re less experienced players. We need to bring up the level of each player. That’s been a pretty big focus. So instead of worrying so much about the team altogether, which sounds counterintuitive right now, but my strategy is basically take the biggest gaps and try to bring those up. Work on the things that will give you the biggest benefit and right now it’s really bringing up all the players. I’ve been trying to get them to go to competitions. In a lot of other countries, especially in Europe, where the distance is a lot closer, there’s a lot more clubs, a lot of the players get to play together all the time. In Canada and in the USA, we really don’t have the chance to play together as much. So it’s really tough and challenging to get that team chemistry.

What are Canada’s goals for the 2023 World Championships ?

It is a development team, so honestly, it’s really about getting that experience for the guys and then walking away feel like we’ve done the best that we can. So the result will come on its own. The key is to be happy with that, to be motivated, and then to take everything that we’ve learned. For the next championships, we bring it all back, we refocus and then we do a lot better even then. So the goal for now is to do at least as good as we did before, but we’ll see.

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  1. Pingback: INTERVIEW : La nouvelle ère canadienne avec Andrei Savu et Charles Savard – UWH News – Le média du Hockey Subaquatique

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