Julien injured, Colliton named coach of the Canadian men’s hockey team

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DAVOS, Switzerland – An injury forced Canada’s men’s hockey team to make a last-minute change behind the bench ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

DAVOS, Switzerland – An injury forced Canada’s men’s hockey team to make a last-minute change behind the bench ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Hockey Canada announced Sunday that Jeremy Colliton has replaced Claude Julien as the team’s head coach after Julien slipped on the ice and fractured his ribs during a team building activity at camp. training in Switzerland.

Medical staff have determined that the injury will prevent the veteran NHL coach from traveling to China for the Games.

“(Julien) was obviously devastated to hear about this, to find out, because he wanted to be there so badly,” team general manager Shane Doan told reporters in a video call on Sunday.

The injury means Colliton has been promoted from assistant coach to bench manager.

The 37-year-old from Blackie, Alta., was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks for four seasons before being fired in November.

A former center, Colliton played six seasons professionally for the American Hockey League’s New York Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers before coaching the Alberta Junior Hockey League and Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan.

He also represented Canada at the world junior hockey championships twice, winning silver in 2004 and gold a year later.

“Any time you get the chance to represent Canada, it’s as good as it gets, I think, as a hockey player and as a Canadian,” he said.

“I had the chance to do it as a player and it’s one of my best memories. So now to be part of a new group of players and to participate in the Olympics is an incredible opportunity and certainly a great responsibility.”

Despite the injury, Colliton expects Julien to still weigh in during the tournament.

“He has so much experience and a winning record and he has already invested so much in this process, preparing the team,” he said. “We’ve come up with a plan to prepare the team and how the team is going to play. And we’re just trying to push that forward.

While NHL players have missed a second consecutive Olympics, the Canadian team includes a mix of emerging stars and seasoned veterans.

Julien sent a message to the players saying the coaching swap is just adversity and now they have a chance to show how they respond, Colliton said.

“It probably won’t be the last obstacle on the road that we encounter,” he said.

The Canadians will play two exhibition games before the start of the Games, facing Switzerland on Tuesday and the United States on February 7. Canada’s Olympic tournament will officially begin on February 10 when they face Germany.

The team is currently still focused on preparation, Colliton said, but is optimistic heading into Beijing.

“We absolutely think we can fight for a gold medal, no doubt,” he said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 30, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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