With less than two months to go before the Sochi Olympics, Canadian women’s hockey team head coach Dan Church has stepped down.
Church resigned his position Thursday for personal reasons, according to a press release from Hockey Canada.
“I have understood from the beginning of this process that winning gold in Sochi was this team’s only focus,” Church said in the release. “I believe that stepping aside for personal reasons at this time will help the team achieve its goal.”
Earlier in the day, Church tweeted one word: “Heartbroken.”
Assistant coaches Danielle Goyette and Lisa Haley will act as interim co-coaches “for the immediate future,” according to Hockey Canada. There was no indication if that included the Olympics, which get under way in early February.
“We understand that this was a very difficult decision for Dan,” Canadian general manager Melody Davidson said. “We are certainly very appreciative that he came to this conclusion with the best interests of the team in mind.”
Church led Canada to a gold medal at the 2012 world championship and a silver medal at the 2013 worlds. He also coached the national under-18 team to a world title in 2010.
Goyette, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year, won three Olympic gold medals with the Canadian team during her storied playing career. Haley coached the St. Mary’s University women’s team for 14 years before taking over the Ryerson program in 2011.