CALGARY -- With less than two months to go until the Sochi Olympics, Kevin Dineen will have to hit the ground running as the new head coach of the Canadian women's hockey team.
Dineen was named to the post Tuesday, just a few days after Dan Church's surprise resignation. Dineen was signed for the remainder of the season and will guide the defending champions at the Feb. 7-23 Winter Games.
"This has been a whirlwind few days but when this opportunity presented itself I immediately jumped at it," Dineen said at a news conference.
It's the first international coaching job for Dineen, who served as head coach of the NHL's Florida Panthers for parts of three seasons until he was fired last month. He previously served as head coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates for six seasons (2005-11).
"We're very excited that Kevin will join the coaching staff of Canada's national women's team and bring his unique perspective to the dressing room," Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith said in a statement. "Kevin has had success in both the AHL and NHL, and we're looking forward to him being a part of the staff for the final push towards Sochi."
Dineen, a 50-year-old who was born in Quebec City and raised in Toronto, also played in 1,188 NHL regular-season games, scoring 355 goals and adding 405 assists.
He succeeds Church, who unexpectedly stepped down last week. Church said he felt there was a lack of confidence in his ability to coach Canada to a gold medal at the Games.
Assistants Lisa Haley and Danielle Goyette handled the coaching duties in Canada's 5-1 loss to the archrival United States in an exhibition game last Thursday in Calgary. The two women's hockey powers meet again Friday in an exhibition game in Grand Forks, N.D.
As a player, Dineen represented Canada on six occasions. He made four appearances at the IIHF world hockey championship, winning silver in 1985 and 1989. He won a Canada Cup in 1987 and just missed the podium at the 1984 Winter Games, when Canada settled for a fourth-place finish at Sarajevo.
"I am a product of Hockey Canada," Dineen said. "I've had the opportunity to represent my country on the international stage. I may have a little unfinished business from my Olympic experience."
The Canadian women's team is aiming to win Olympic gold for the fourth straight time.
"This is a critical time for Canada's national women's team with the start of the Olympics less than two months away, and we feel Kevin is a terrific fit with our staff as we get ready for Sochi," said general manager Melody Davidson. "His experience, both on the ice and behind the bench, will be invaluable over the coming weeks."
Dineen, Goyette, Haley and Davidson will work together to finalize Canada's roster for Sochi over the coming weeks.
"Things are happening pretty quickly," Dineen said. "I know I'm hopping on a moving train here and will rely heavily on the whole coaching staff, and Lisa and Danielle, to help this initial stage for a couple of weeks."
Twenty-four players remain in centralization, including three goaltenders, seven defencemen and 14 forwards.
Canada's final roster for the Sochi Games will include 21 players, including three goaltenders.