Kevin Dineen became coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team Tuesday ahead of the Sochi Olympics, a month after his firing by the Florida Panthers.
He succeeds Dan Church, who unexpectedly resigned last week less than two months before the games in Russia. The Canadian women’s team is aiming to win Olympic gold for the fourth straight time.
”This has been a whirlwind few days, but when this opportunity presented itself I immediately jumped at it,” said Dineen, who grew up in Toronto, at a news conference.
This the first international coaching job for the 50-year-old Dineen, a former NHL player who scored 355 goals and added 405 assists on five teams from 1984-2002.
He coached the Panthers for just more than two seasons and is the only coach to win a division championship for the club. When he was fired, the Panthers were off to one of the worst starts in the league this year.
He previously served as head coach of the AHL’s Portland Pirates for six seasons (2005-11).
Church said he felt there was a lack of confidence in his ability to win a gold medal.
Assistants Lisa Haley and Danielle Goyette handled the coaching in Canada’s 5-1 exhibition loss to the U.S. last week in Calgary. The two women’s hockey powers play again Friday in Grand Forks, N.D.
As a player, Dineen represented Canada on six occasions. He made four appearances at the IIHF world hockey championship, winning silver in 1985 and 1989. He won a Canada Cup in 1987 and just missed the podium at the 1984 Sarajevo Games, when Canada was fourth.
”I am a product of Hockey Canada,” Dineen said. ”I’ve had the opportunity to represent my country on the international stage. I may have a little unfinished business from my Olympic experience.”
Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith said he’ll bring a unique perspective as a former player and coach.
”Kevin has had success in both the AHL and NHL, and we’re looking forward to him being a part of the staff for the final push towards Sochi,” Smith said in a statement.