Head coach of women’s na­tional team re­signs

Dan Church says there wasn’t con­fi­dence in him lead­ing the squad to another Olympic gold

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Sports -

Dan Church abruptly stepped down as head coach of the Cana­dian women’s hockey team say­ing he felt oth­ers lacked con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to win a gold medal at the Win­ter Olympics.

Church re­signed from the job Thurs­day less than two months be­fore the open­ing cer­e­monies of the Win­ter Games in Sochi, Rus­sia.

“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 in a phone in­ter­view. “I’m heart­bro­ken, to be hon­est, about the whole sit­u­a­tion.”

He did not spec­ify whether it was play­ers or Hockey Canada man­age­ment who ques­tioned his com­pe­tence.

“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.”

The move was a bomb­shell as the 21-player Olympic team was ex­pected to be an­nounced be­fore the end of De­cem­ber. The Cana­dian women will at­tempt to win a fourth straight gold medal in Sochi af­ter vic­to­ries in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Canada is com­ing off a loss in the fi­nal of this year’s world cham­pi­onship to the U.S.

The Cana­dian women have been train­ing full time in Cal­gary since Au­gust in prepa­ra­tion for the Olympics. Canada was rid­ing a three-game win­ning streak against archri­val U.S. head­ing into Thurs­day night’s game be­tween the two coun­tries in Cal­gary.

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