Quenneville hospitalized for exhaustion

Updated: April 24, 2004, 11:22 AM ET
Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Joel Quenneville will be replaced as Canada's coach for the hockey World Championships after being hospitalized for exhaustion.

The former St. Louis Blues coach was taken to a hospital Friday night and was still under observation Saturday afternoon.

"The doctor's with him right now," Canada general manager Jim Nill said. "He's exhausted. I just think things hit him all at once and he might have had a touch of the flu.

"Joel is sedated, they want him to get a lot of rest. He's whipped. The doctors want to get Joel back home as soon as possible."

Nill said he would announce Quenneville's replacement later on Saturday, choosing between assistant coaches Mike Babcock of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Tom Renney of the New York Rangers. Renney led Canada to gold in Milan in 1994.

Renney, the interim coach of the New York Rangers, was behind the bench for Canada at the 1995, 1996 and 2000 World Championships. Babcock, the coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, led Canada to its last world junior gold in 1997.

"One of these two guys will be head coach," Nill said. "They are both very qualified coaches. They can both run this team, but we need to sit down and decide. We have a game tomorrow so I'll name a head coach tonight. You always need to have a captain of the ship and it's important for the team, the players to know who the head guy is."

Canada begins tournament play against Austria on Sunday.

"The good thing is we haven't started yet," Nill said. "We have a great group of players and I've got two coaches here who are both very qualified internationally so it's really no problem at all."

The 45-year-old Quenneville was chosen as head coach for the Canadian team after he was fired by St. Louis in February.

Quenneville, the winningest coach in franchise history and the NHL's coach of the year for the 1999-2000 season, was let go as the Blues scrambled to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.

Under Quenneville, the Blues won at least 40 games during five of his six full seasons.

But the Blues struggled this season and were in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 29-23-7-2 record when Quenneville was fired.

St. Louis did make the playoffs, before being eliminated in five games by San Jose in the opening round.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press