BEIJING (Reuters) – Veteran coach Claude Julien will rejoin the Canadian men’s ice hockey team in Beijing after a training camp injury had prevented him from travelling to China and caused him to miss the start of the Olympic tournament.
The former National Hockey League (NHL) coach of the year slipped on ice and sustained fractured ribs during a team-building activity at a training camp in Switzerland, Hockey Canada said.
Former Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton stepped in during the interim and will now resume his role as assistant coach.
Canada are riding high after beating Germany 5-1 in their Beijing opener on Thursday, four years after the Germans had ended Canadian dreams of a third straight Olympic gold in the semi-finals in Pyeongchang.
“Anytime you can add such an accomplished coach in the NHL and internationally, it’s obviously going to be a big boost,” said defenceman Alex Grant, who scored the opening goal at Wukesong Sports Centre on Thursday.
“The main thing is that he’s doing well, health-wise, and that he’s able to make a full recovery.”
The 61-year-old Stanley Cup winner took over from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper last month after the NHL said it would not participate in the Beijing Games due to COVID-19 disruptions.
“Claude has remained in great spirits and has been supportive of our team since his injury, and we are excited that he has recovered quickly and will be able to rejoin us,” general manager Shane Doan said in a statement.
Canada next face arch rivals United States on Saturday in the group stage.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Beijing; Editing by Toby Davis)