Canada has changed head coaches before arriving in Beijing for the men’s Olympic hockey tournament.
On Sunday, Hockey Canada announced doctors have advised Claude Julien not to fly to China after he fell on the ice and broke ribs during a team-building activity at a pre-Olympic training camp in Switzerland.
Assistant Jeremy Colliton, who was fired from his NHL head-coaching job with Chicago earlier this season, will run the bench with assistants Nolan Baumgartner and Tyler Dietrich.
“Claude was beyond excited and honoured to be a member of Team Canada at the Olympics, and we are all disappointed that he will no longer be able to lead our team in Beijing,” Canada general manager Shane Doan said in a news release.
“Claude is in great spirits and we will continue to do everything we can to support him. We ask that Claude’s privacy please be respected at this time.”
Prior to joining Chicago, the 37-year-old Colliton coached the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, Ill. Previously, the native of Blackie, Alta., was an assistant coach with the Calgary Mustangs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for one season.
“While it is difficult to fill in for a coach that has a pedigree like Claude Julien, I am honoured to be considered as the person to lead Canada’s men’s Olympic team as head coach,” Colliton said in the news release.
“We have a very close-knit, experienced coaching staff that has gained a lot of knowledge from Claude in our short time together, and I know our staff will continue to support each other as we look to achieve our goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.”
Internationally, Colliton won a gold medal for Canada at the 2003 world U18 championship and 2005 world junior championship along with silver the previous year at the world juniors.
He also played six professional seasons (2005-12) with the New York Islanders and AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Canada’s assistant GM and senior vice-president of hockey operations Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Doan will also assist the coaching staff.
Earlier this week, Canada unveiled a 25-player roster of non-NHLers, led by 37-year-old centre Eric Staal and NHL prospect Owen Power, a University of Michigan defenceman who starred at the recent world juniors that was cancelled in December because of a continued forfeiture of games as a result of COVID-19.
Following the training camp and an exhibition game in Switzerland, the Canadians will travel to Beijing before playing one more tune-up against the United States.
Canada opens tournament play Feb. 10 against Germany before facing the U.S. (Feb. 12) and hosts China (Feb. 13) to close out round-robin action in Group A.
Canada won gold with NHLers in 2002, 2010 and 2014, but hasn’t topped the podium in an Olympic tournament that wasn’t best-on-best since 1952.
The NHL went to five straight Games between 1998 and 2014, but declined to participate four years ago in a tournament that was won by the Russians.
WATCH | Breaking down Canada’s roster: