Church steps down Canadian women’s hockey coach
Canadian Olympic women’s hockey coach Dan Church resigned
Thursday, less than two months before the start of the Sochi Games,
saying he felt others lacked confidence in his ability to lead the
country to a fourth consecutive gold medal.
The announcement was made hours before Canada’s 5-1 exhibition
loss to the United States, the defending world champion. Hockey
Canada said assistant coaches Lisa Haley and Danielle Goyette will
serve as co-coaches until a new head coach is named.
”If there isn’t confidence in what I’m doing, I need to step
aside and let the team move on,” Church told The Canadian Press.
”I’m heartbroken, to be honest, about the whole situation.”
The players were informed of Church’s departure at their morning
”Over the last few hours I’ve had discussions with Dan Church
and effective just recently Dan has decided to resign for personal
reasons,” Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith said
at a news conference Thursday. ”We truly respect the amount of
time that would go into thinking that way and making that personal
decision. We respect Dan’s personal wishes.”
Smith, Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson and female head
scout Melody Davidson will hire the next coach.
”Time certainly is of the essence,” Smith said. ”This
decision came upon us in the last few hours and we’re going to
react as quickly as possible.”
Davidson, who coached the Canadian women to Olympic gold medals
in 2006 and 2010, said she was not a candidate.
”I left because it was time to be off that bench and I’m
comfortable in the role I can play off the ice,” she said. ”I
think there’s some real good candidates there who can help us and
bring a different voice than mine. I’ll definitely support whatever
direction we go in, but it’s not going to involve me as part of the
The 40-year-old Church, from Toronto, did not specify whether it
was his players or Hockey Canada management that had questioned his
”Just discussions I’d had over the last few days made that
apparent, in some meetings I’d had with leadership,” Church said.
”I think it was just difference of opinion on the direction we
were headed. In the end, I just decided if I’m getting in the way
of where the team needs to go, I need to step aside and let them
continue on in the process.”
Asked if Hockey Canada tried to convince him to stay, Church
said, ”No, they did not.”
Church signed a two-year contract to coach the women’s team in
June 2012 and coached Canada to the world title that year in
Burlington, Vt. The Americans beat Canada in the final of this
year’s world championship, in Ottawa.
Church, who did not run the team’s practice Wednesday, told the
CP he was flying to Toronto later Thursday. He did not address the
players before his departure.
Canada also will face the United States this month in Grand
Forks, N.D.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Toronto.