Former Kamloops Blazers head coach Ken Hitchcock was named to the Order of Hockey in Canada, along with women's hockey star Jayna Hefford and coach George Kingston today (Jan. 30).
The trio will be honoured at the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala and Golf in Edmonton on June 17 and 18.
“As players and coaches, this group of honourees has proudly represented Canada on some of the biggest stages in the game,” said Tom Renney, CEO of Hockey Canada in a release. “To be recognized as a distinguished honouree of the Order of Hockey in Canada is one of the most prestigious accomplishments one can receive, and this year’s honourees are certainly well-deserving. On behalf of my colleagues at Hockey Canada, the Order of Hockey in Canada selection committee and our board members, I would like to congratulate Jayna, Ken and George on this achievement, and we look forward to celebrating with them in June.”
Hitchcock was an assistant coach on Canada's men's national team for three Olympic gold medals and was also an assistant for the junior team that won gold in 1998. He also won a World Cup title in 2004, and served as head coach at a pair of world championships, in 2008 and 2011.
He guided the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup title in 1999 and currently serves as the head coach of his hometown Edmonton Oilers. He earned the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach in 2011-12, and was twice named WHL coach of the year twice during his time with the Blazers.
Hefford, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was a key part of Canada's women's team from 1997 to 2014. The native of Kingston, Ont., remains the team's second-highest scorer with 291 points (157 goals, 134 assists) over her 267-game career.
Hefford helped Canada to four Olympic gold medals and seven world titles over her international career. She is currently serving as commissioner of the Canadian Women's Hockey League after a stellar career at the club level.
Kingston, from Biggar, Sask., led the University of Calgary to six Canada West championships before making the move to the international level. Hew as an assistant coach with Canada at the 1983 world championship and 1984 Olympics.
He was chairman of the 1988 Olympic tournament in Calgary before building Canada's silver medal-winning entry at the 1994 Games as general manager.
The first-ever head coach of the San Jose Sharks, Kingston also made NHL stops as an assistant with Calgary, Minnesota, Atlanta and Florida.
The Order was started by Hockey Canada in 2012 to honour individuals for their contributions to the growth and development of hockey in Canada.
Past honourees are: Mike Babcock (2018); Jean Beliveau (2012); Scotty Bowman (2017); David Branch (2016); Cassie Campbell-Pascall (2012); Clare Drake (2014); Danielle Goyette (2018); Jim Gregory (2015); Wayne Gretzky (2012); Geraldine Heaney (2016); Paul Henderson (2013); Gordie Howe (2012); Dave King (2013); Mario Lemieux (2016); Mark Messier (2013); Bob Nicholson (2016); Pat Quinn (2015); Gordon Renwick (2012); France St-Louis (2014); Serge Savard (2015); Ryan Smyth (2018); and Steve Yzerman (2014).