• Mike Brophy

    Mike Brophy

    About Mike Brophy

    Mike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992.


Mike Brophy - Friday Dec. 13, 2013 14:28

Dan Church's abrupt exit must be addressed by Hockey Canada

Many questions persist after Canadian coach's resignation

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, left, announced the resignation of national women's Team head coach Dan Church on Thursday in Calgary. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

Are you buying this Dan Church “resignation” story?

I’m not. Not a chance.

Why would a man who said coaching the women’s Olympic team was, “part of a 10-year journey,” up and resign when the Sochi Games are just around the corner.

Church cited personal issues as his reason to resign, but told CBC Olympics, “I am devastated that I will not be able to finish what I started. I am heartbroken that I will not get to coach in or go to the Olympic Games.”

Church insisted it was his decision to resign, but would not comment on the possibility that, if he refused to resign, he would have been fired. He also would not specify why he resigned.

“I feel like we hit every benchmark along the way and that we were making improvements in all our areas of concern,” Church added.

Hockey Canada sent Church to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England so he could experience the magnitude of such a monumental event.

There has been speculation Church’s abrupt decision to leave the team was based on personnel decisions; that he either wanted to cut veterans and go with a younger group or, conversely, was being asked to release veterans that he wanted to keep.

Church insisted neither was the case.

“This has nothing to do with personnel decisions,” he said.

Botterill shocked at Church resignation

Three-time gold medalist Jennifer Botterill said she is shocked at what has unfolded in Calgary Thursday.

“The impression is that he didn’t feel like Hockey Canada had the confidence in him to win Olympic gold,” Botterill said. “I do feel it was a distraction for the players. They will need to refocus quickly.”

Church was signed to a two-year contract to coach the Olympic team after guiding the women’s national team to a gold medal at the world championship in 2012. But Canada lost 3-2 to the United States in the gold-medal game of the 2013 world championship in Ottawa tournament last spring.

Many questions remain

With such little time now for a new coach to come in and make a positive impact, there are now many questions that need to be answered. Such as:

  • Why risk such upheaval with the Olympic Games less than two months away?
  • Will GM Mel Davidson, who has said she doesn’t want to coach the team, eventually move back behind the bench?
  • Will Hockey Canada turn to a former NHL coach such as Dave King, Ralph Krueger or Paul Maurice?
  • If Hockey Canada does not believe Church can coach the team to a gold medal in Sochi, why not name Danielle Goyette head coach right away?
  • Why didn’t Hockey Canada simply fire Church?
  • Why did Church not address the team following his decision to “resign”?
  • Was he instructed by Hockey Canada not to meet with the players?
  • Could any of the recent cuts from the team – Tessa Bonhomme, Brigette Lacquette and/or Jenelle Kohanchuk – be brought back to the team?

There is more to this story than meets the eye and more than Hockey Canada is admitting to.

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