(Reuters) - Former National Hockey League player and coach Kevin Dineen was named head coach of the defending Olympic champion Canadian women's ice hockey team on Tuesday.
Dineen succeeds Dan Church, who abruptly resigned from the position last week with under two months to go until the February 7-23 Sochi Games.
It marks the first international coaching role for Dineen, who was fired last month as coach of the Florida Panthers after a disappointing start to the 2013-14 NHL season.
"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," Melody Davidson, general manager of female national teams with Hockey Canada, said in a statement.
"His experience, both on the ice and behind the bench, will be invaluable over the coming weeks."
Dineen, 50, led the Panthers to a division title and first playoff berth in 12 years in his first season as head coach before the team fell in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
He played with four franchises during a 19-season NHL career, scoring a career-high 45 goals and 89 points with the Hartford Whalers in the 1988-89 campaign.
Dineen will work with assistant coaches Danielle Goyette and Lisa Haley, along with Davidson, to finalize Canada's roster for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games over the coming weeks.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)