Even though the 2023 IIHF World Championship wasn’t his best showing, former Buffalo Sabres forward Craig Ramsay is being given another chance to take Slovakia to world hockey glory.
It was announced on Wednesday that Ramsay, 72, and the Slovakian Ice Hockey Federation have agreed to terms on a one-year contract extension. The deal will see him coach the country’s national team through the 2024 world tourney.
The Czech Rebublic will be playing host to the 2024 IIHF World Championship in Prague and Ostrava. As far as Ramsay is concerned, it’s almost going to seem like being at home for the Slovaks.
Craig Ramsay bude pokračovať na lavičke Slovenska. Miro Šatan mu pri príležitosti rekordu v počte zápasov pri reprezentácii (125) odovzdal fujaru. 🇸🇰🏒 pic.twitter.com/hoaU9jFU0G
— Hetrik.sk (@hetrik_sk) June 6, 2023
“The championship in the Czech Republic will be practically a home game for us,” Ramsay told isport.blesk.cz. “I believe we will continue our game, which is attacking and fast. And that we will achieve success.”
Ramsay was one of the best defensive forwards and an elite penalty killer while playing 1070 games for the Sabres from 1971-85. He was also an eight-time 20-goal scorer for Buffalo.
The former Buffalo player was an NHL head coach with the Philadelphia Flyers (2000-01) and Atlanta Thashers (2010-11). He was also serving stints as an assistant coach with eight NHL clubs, including the Sabres from 1986-87. In 2003-04 Ramsay won the Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Satan Keeping Ramsay
It was another ex-Sabres player, Miro Satan, in his role as president of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, who was announcing that Ramsay would be staying. Upon making the announcement, he was presenting Ramsay with a fujara, a traditional Slovak flute-like instrument.
“I believe that for at least another year his players will play the way Craig whistles,” Satan said.
Ramsay was brought on board as Slovak coach following the country’s 14th-place finish at the 2017 World Cup. He’s twice led the Slovakian squad to the world tourney quarterfinals and won a bronze medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Ramsay’s 125 games behind the national team bench is a record for Slovakia.
Ramsay Not Looking Beyond 2024
Ramsay isn’t certain how much longer he intends to be coaching.
“Every year I tell myself that this championship will be my last,” Ramsay said. “I don’t plan too far in advance.
Don Luce and Craig Ramsay… greatest penalty killers in NHL history. pic.twitter.com/PRb5i80Keg
— Typekast (@Typekast1) June 3, 2023
“I talked to my wife before I made this decision and she said, ‘I know you’re going to come back and not give up.’ Like me, she likes it in Slovakia.
“I’m very appreciative of what we’ve been able to achieve together. Not only me, but the entire Slovak national team for six years of our journey together. We were always one team that won and lost together. It was never just about the players or the coach. It’s always been about us.”