‘I’m a junkie for learning’: Canada coach Tourigny’s journey to World Juniors success

EDMONTON — When asked about his coaching philosophy, Team Canada coach Andre Tourigny admitted he’s a bit of a thief.

“I’m a pickpocket. I steal a little bit from everybody.”

“I’m a junkie for learning,” he said. “I read books. I listen to a lot of coaches talking.”

Tourigny, known to his players as Bear, is behind the bench for his fifth World Juniors with Team Canada, but first as its head coach. 

A drive to succeed coupled with a constant search for knowledge have brought him to that professional peak. 

“Any coach is better than me at something,” he said.

Tourigny, 46, cites longtime National Hockey League coaches Alain Vigneault and Ken Hitchcock as influences but says he hasn’t always had to look to the pros for how to improve.

“Any coach at any level I can learn from,” he said. “That’s the way I always did it.”


Tourigny grew up on a farm in Nicolet, Que. near Trois-Rivieres. 

He’s said he learned his work ethic from his father, who would be working long hours well after he came home from school. 

“I like to lead people,” he said to Hockey Canada. “I like the strategy. I like the game [within the game] behind the bench.” 

After starting out coaching minor hockey, he began his major junior coaching career in 1998 with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 

Four years later, he became the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies head coach and general manager at age 28 and remained there until 2013. 

It was there he focused his energy on learning English and is now fluent in both official languages.

“Before [I learned English] it was not something I ever thought about because it was not something that was available to me,” Tourigny said to Hockey Canada. 

“It is a dream for me to coach my country.”

Andre Tourigny 2010

Assistant coach Andre Tourigny runs practice at the national junior hockey team development camp in St. John’s, N.L. on Thursday, August 5, 2010.THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Assistant coach jobs in the NHL with first the Colorado Avalanche and then the Ottawa Senators followed before a return to major junior coaching with the Halifax Mooseheads and then the Ottawa 67’s, his current team. 

He’s coached Canada’s under-18 team and was on coach Dale Hunter’s staff for last year’s World Juniors gold medal win in the Czech Republic. 

“The thing I like the most now, it’s building a culture, values, [and] developing young men.”


His Team Canada players say he has a simple coaching philosophy: be urgent on the task and patient with the outcome.

“He keeps a tight ship,” said defenceman Jamie Drysdale who played under Tourigny last year when he was the assistant coach. 

“He knows how to play the game right and how to win.” 

Players say he’s not afraid to call out underperforming efforts, and is direct and to the point in his team addresses.

“They’re usually short and simple but he gets his point across for sure,” forward Connor McMichael said.

For Tourigny, others frequently-used terms include adversity and resiliance, both of which he’s primed his team to expect.

“In team-building exercises, the players had to talk about that value of resilience,” Tourigny said.

“That’s one of the reasons our country is so special in hockey. We’re resilient. We never quit. We stay with it. We never stop.”

He hopes that preparation will have his team ready for the tough tests still remaining in the games ahead.

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