Claude Julien will coach Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey team after all.
Hockey Canada announced the 61-year-old has been cleared to travel and will rejoin the squad in Beijing following Thursday’s tournament opening win against Germany.
Ben Street had a goal and an assist as Canada stormed out of the gate early before cruising to a 5-1 victory. Alex Grant, Daniel Winnik, Maxim Noreau and Jordan Weal also scored for Canada while goaltender Edward Pasquale made 23 saves.
Julien was originally tabbed to lead the Canadian contingent, but suffered broken ribs in a fall during training camp in Switzerland and wasn’t able to fly to China.
Assistant coach Jeremy Colliton took the reins in Julien’s absence — Canada’s third bench boss for the Games after Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning originally received the nod when the NHL committed to the 2022 Olympics.
But the league withdrew in December because of COVID-19 concerns, opening the door for Julien, who most recently coached in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens before getting fired in February 2021. Colliton was relieved of his duties by the Chicago Blackhawks in November.
Canada’s second game of Group A goes Saturday afternoon (Friday night in North America) before wrapping up round-robin action against hosts China on Sunday.
“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 as we continue to work towards winning a gold medal for Canada,” general manager Shane Doan said in a release. “We appreciate the leadership of Jeremy Colliton and his willingness to take over behind the bench, and to selflessly welcome Claude back as head coach.
“Our entire coaching staff has stepped up in Claude’s absence, and we are thrilled that he is healthy and able to return to Team Canada.”
—Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press