Dave Henderson and Pierre Pousse, who helmed the France national team’s bench together as head and assistant coaches respectively since 2004, today both coached their final game, a 5-1 loss to Switzerland at the 2018 World Championships, ending a remarkable 14 year streak of bringing French hockey back to the Top Division to stay.
Henderson, a Canadian who joined Amiens in 1975 as a player, stayed with the Gothiques for 12 seasons as a player-coach before being recruited for the French junior team in 1999. After five seasons with the junior Bleus, Henderson joined the senior men’s team in Division IB of the World Championships, bringing Les Bleus up to Division IA the following year, and joining the Top Division in 2008, where they have remained ever since. Pousse, a Strasbourg native who played professionally with a number of different French squads, joined the junior team as an assistant in 2003, coming up with Henderson as co-head coaches from 2005-09 before becoming a permanent assistant.
Together, they oversaw not just a senior team program that has spent the last decade in the Top Division, but helping to put French hockey into the mainstream, now producing for the first time legitimate NHL stars, such as Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Antoine Roussel and Cristobal Huet, who made history in 2010 as the first French national to win the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. For a nation that was known for decades for only producing NHL star Philippe Bozon (who incidentally will take over as the national team’s coach), the output from France is starting to turn heads across the hockey world, and surely more stars will begin to emerge from L’Hexagone.
In terms of the IHLC, Henderson and Pousse were behind the bench for France’s four latest IHLC victories (out of 21 wins in history, only 9 of which have come after 1912) – a shootout victory over Canada, overtime wins over Switzerland and Russia, and a 3-2 victory over Slovakia that made France the title holders leading up to this year’s World Championships. We wish Dave and Pierre and their families the very best for their retirement and the things to come!
Photo Credit: Hockey France – IIHF – HHOF – IOC