In what only can be described as a stunning announcement, Team Canada's Olympic women's team head coach Dan Church resigned his position Thursday, mere weeks before the start of the 2014 Sochi Games. He'll be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coaches Danielle Goyette and Lisa Haley.
"I would like to thank Hockey Canada for the opportunity to reach my goal of coaching and winning gold at the international level,” said Church, who led Canada’s women’s team to a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF World Championship and a silver medal at this year's tournament. “I wish the players and staff all the best going forward. I have understood from the beginning of this process that winning gold in Sochi was this team’s only focus. I believe that stepping aside for personal reasons at this time will help the team achieve its goal.”
The decision came out of nowhere, as Church had been active with the team right up until the announcement. Curiously, the Canadian women will play their U.S. counterparts in a warm-up game Thursday night in Calgary.
“We understand that this was a very difficult decision for Dan,” said Hockey Canada GM of female national teams Melody Davidson. “We are certainly very appreciative that he came to this conclusion with the best interests of the team in mind.”
More details eventually will emerge regarding Church's departure from the organization. But this is highly irregular for Hockey Canada and it will be intriguing to see how the players react to the move.