Hockey

Tony Care - Tuesday Dec. 17, 2013 12:01 ET

Kevin Dineen named Canada’s women’s hockey head coach

Former Florida Panthers coach replaces Dan Church

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Former Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen has been hired to replace Dan Church as the Canadian women’s new head coach, Hockey Canada announced Tuesday in Calgary.

Dineen coached the Panthers from 2011-13. The 50-year-old played 19 NHL seasons with five different teams, including the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators.

"This has been a whirlwind few days but when this opportunity presented itself, I immediately jumped at it," said Dineen, who has played in 1,188 NHL regular-season games, scoring 355 goals and adding 405 assists.

“We’re very excited that Kevin will join the coaching staff of Canada’s national women’s team and bring his unique perspective to the dressing room,” said Scott Smith, Hockey Canada’s chief operating officer.

“This is a critical time for Canada’s national women’s team with the start of the Olympics less than two months away, and we feel Kevin is a terrific fit with our staff as we get ready for Sochi,” said Melody Davidson, general manager of female national teams with Hockey Canada. 

“His experience, both on the ice and behind the bench, will be invaluable over the coming weeks.”

Church abruptly resigned last week with less than two months remaining until the Sochi Olympics, citing a lack of confidence from Hockey Canada officials in his ability to coach Canada’s women to gold in Sochi.

"I'm extremely disappointed and heartbroken that I won't be able finish my Olympic journey with the team," Church told CBC Sports. 

"I'm confident that the team will do well moving forward as I've laid a solid foundation in the time I was with the team. Stepping into a new team with 55 days to go until the Olympics is not an easy task. As a proud Canadian, I wish Mr. Dineen great success with the team."

In his first year as coach of the Panthers, Dineen guided the franchise to its first-ever division title. But a 3-9-4 start this season cost Dineen his job on Nov. 8.

Ties to Hockey Canada

He does have ties to Hockey Canada, representing his country at several world championships in the 1980s.

Dineen will work with assistant coaches Danielle Goyette and Lisa Haley, along with Davidson, to finalize Canada’s roster for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games over the coming weeks.

Twenty-four players remain on the national team — three goaltenders, seven defencemen and 14 forwards. Canada’s final roster for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will include 21 players, including three goaltenders. The final roster is expected to be named by late December.

Players are looking forward to getting on with the task at hand.

"We can move on, we can move forward," veteran forward Jayna Hefford told CBC Calgary. "Kevin comes with a passion for the game, that's obvious. He played the game, he's coached at the highest level. For us, that's something we like."

Haley and Goyette took over the coaching duties in Canada's 5-1 loss to the archrival United States in an exhibition game last Thursday in Calgary.

The two women's hockey powers meet again Friday in an exhibition game in Grand Forks, N.D.

"Things are happening pretty quickly," Dineen said. "I know I'm hopping on a moving train here and will rely heavily on the whole coaching staff, and Lisa and Danielle, to help this initial stage for a couple of weeks."

Canada has won the last three Olympic gold medals, including the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

With files from The Canadian Press

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