Tag Archives: ‘Sudden

Olympic champion Samuel Girard announces sudden retirement

Canada’s Samuel Girard is going out on top.

The 22-year-old short track speed skater announced his retirement on Friday alongside teammate and girlfriend Kasandra Bradette.

At the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last year, Girard won Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold medal on the 1,000-metre track before adding bronze as a member the 5,000m relay team.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said Friday in a statement from Speed Skating Canada.

“This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Bradette, 29, competed in the 3,000m relay in Pyeongchang during her lone Olympic appearance.

Girard’s stunning decision is a big blow to Canada’s podium hopes for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Dubbed by some as the successor to Charles Hamelin, Girard turned and leaped into his veteran teammate’s arms after winning the 1,000.

WATCH | Girard earns Canada’s 1st-ever 1,000-metre gold:

The Ferland-et-Boilleau, Quebec native is the first North American skater to win Olympic gold in the men’s 1,000-metre short track distance. 4:08

“I will share my medal with him,” Girard said after the race of his friend Hamelin. “He worked so hard for me to be what I am right now.”

But Girard has now hung up his skates before Hamelin. It was Hamelin who was expected to retire following the Olympics, but he reversed course and delayed the end of his career by one year. The 35-year-old still hasn’t said whether he will return again for the 2019-2020 World Cup season.

Girard, of Chicoutimi, Que., won four medals – all silver – over the last three International Skating Union (ISU) world championships. The podium appearances were split evenly between individual (1,000 in 2016; 1,500 in 2017) and team (5,000 relay in 2016 and 2018) accomplishments.

Bradette, from St-Felicien, Que., won three world championship medals including the 1,000 bronze and 3,000 relay silver in 2016, and the 3,000 relay bronze in 2018.

“With the retirement of Kasandra and Samuel, two of the leading speed skaters in Quebec and Canada are taking their bow,” said Robert Dubreuil, executive director of the Quebec Speed Skating Federation.

“They have both marked our sport, each in their own way. Kasandra has shown extraordinary determination in her Olympic pursuit and Samuel, for his part, will be remembered for his immense talent and work ethic that led him to the top step of the Olympic podium.”

Girard’s retirement leaves a void in Canadian men’s short track as the country looks elsewhere for speed skating prospects.

Triple Olympic medallist Kim Boutin, 24, burst onto the scene along with Girard in Pyeongchang and was named the closing flag-bearer.

With Girard’s sudden retirement, the short track torch now falls to Boutin.

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CBC | Sports News

Calgary Inferno remain ‘extremely optimistic’ about women’s pro hockey after CWHL’s sudden closure

Members of the Calgary Inferno — who last month won the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championship — say they’re shocked and devastated by league’s sudden closure but remain optimistic that professional women’s hockey will re-emerge in the city and across the country.

The league announced plans on Sunday to cease operations, effective May 1.

The abrupt announcement left players and team staff without a gig for next season, and fans wondering where they’ll watch their favourite athletes in the future.

“It was definitely not at all what we expected to hear, just a week after the championship game,” said Dakota Woodworth, an Inferno forward.

“It’s devastating news. I can’t really sugar-coat it.”

The team’s general manager, Kristen Hagg, said the league’s decision to cease operations came as a complete surprise to her.

It seemed like “business as usual” as recently as last week, she said, when the Inferno were playing for the Clarkson Cup, the league’s championship trophy.

“We were having meetings at the Clarkson Cup about moving things forward and the next season,” she said.

Zoe Hickel scored a pair of goals as the Calgary Inferno claimed their 2nd Clarkson Cup title in franchise history, beating Les Canadiennes de Montreal 5-2. 1:26

Despite the setback, Hagg said she and others in the sport remain committed to keeping it alive in the city.

“We continue to believe in the existence of women’s hockey in Calgary,” she said.

“It’s a great hockey market and we know, under the right circumstances, we can run a successful franchise here.”

Despite a recent surge of popularity, the league said its business model was “economically unsustainable” and it wouldn’t last for a 13th season.

The league owns the teams and only started paying players during the 2017-18 season, from a total budget of roughly $ 3.7 million.

The 12-year-old CWHL had teams in North America and China this past season but struggled financially. 

Popularity had been increasing over the years, with the recent championship game in Toronto drawing a record-setting 175,000 viewers.

Still ‘extremely optimistic’

“I’m extremely optimistic that there will be professional women’s hockey in Canada, come the fall,” Inferno assistant coach Becky McGee said.

“Women’s hockey has had an incredible year, with higher exposure rates than ever, and there’s a committed group of athletes, staff and people beyond that who want to see hockey on the female side played at its highest level.”

Aside from the Inferno in Calgary, the CWHL also had teams in Toronto, Laval, Que., Markham Ont., Worcester, Mass., and Shenzhen, China.

Calgary Inferno’s Blayre Turnbull hoists the trophy after her team beat Les Canadiennes de Montreal 5-2 to win the 2019 Clarkson Cup on Sunday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Woodworth, who is also a representative on the CWHL Players Association, said many players whom she’s spoken with want to stay in Canada and help build a successor to the league, and she’s “really confident” something can be sorted out by next season.

“I think we can get something done, just because we have to. There has to be professional hockey up here. There has to be professional hockey in Calgary, and there has to be professional hockey in Canada,” she said.

“No one is rushing off to go sign contracts anywhere else … there’s too many good players for everyone to disperse and go other places. Logistically, I don’t know how that works … but just as a player who’s been in the league for three years, I know that it has to happen. It will happen because it has to.”

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CBC | Sports News

Drake Explains Scary Reason for Sudden Concert Cancellations in Miami

Drake announced an unplanned break from his tour this weekend, but for a scary reason. 

The rapper was forced to reschedule two shows in Miami on his Aubrey and The Three Migos tour after becoming suddenly sick with an unspecified illness.

“I just wanted to say how sorry I am about these two Miami shows. I got so ill so fast and I had never experienced anything like that in my life,” the “In My Feelings” singer explained on his Instagram Story. “Unlike other show cancellations or date adjustments due to production issues this one fell on me and I just want to apologize because I hate letting down anyone who come to share these moments with us.”

He concluded the post, writing, “Thank you god for allowing me to recover and continue. On we go.”


The canceled shows are rescheduled for November 13 and 14.

Meanwhile, Drake’s feud with Kanye West continues, as West went on several lengthy rants on his Instagram on Thursday. For more on the drama, watch the video below.


Kanye West Slams Drake, Nick Cannon and Tyson Beckford Over Kim Kardashian: 'Don't Speak on My Wife'

Kanye West Posts Video of North Singing Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’ as He Tries to End Feud

Kanye West Apologizes to Drake on Twitter Amid Rap Feud

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Dakota Fanning Pays Tribute to Co-Star Brittany Murphy 8 Years After Her Sudden Death

Dakota Fanning is remembering Brittany Murphy

The 24-year-old actress took to Instagram on Friday to share a sweet throwback photo of herself with Murphy on the set of their 2003 film, Uptown Girls, in which Murphy starred as Fanning’s nanny. The two strike a sweet pose in the snap, smiling from ear-to-ear while throwing their arms into the air.

Murphy died suddenly in December 2009. The actress was just 32 years old. 

“#fbf Brittany Murphy was a ray of sunshine that made every day of filming magical for me,” Fanning captioned the pic, adding the hashtag, “#uptowngirls ☀️.” 

Murphy died on Dec. 20, 2009, after collapsing in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home. The L.A. County coroner later concluded that the actress had died of pneumonia, combined with anemia and “multiple drug intoxication” from prescription and over-the-counter medication.

The Atlanta-born actress remains best known for 1995’s Clueless and 2002’s 8 Mile with Eminem. She also appeared in Girl, Interrupted (1999) with Angelina Jolie, and starred in romantic comedies Little Black Book (2004) and Just Married (2003). The latter starred her real-life boyfriend at the time, Ashton Kutcher.


Brittany Murphy Death Investigation Will Not Be Re-Opened Despite Reports

‘The Brittany Murphy Story’: Stars Speak Out About the Truth Behind the Film

Brittany Murphy’s Dad Sues L.A. County Coroner

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The real story behind the sudden drop in Canada's drug prices

Hello and happy Saturday! Here’s this week’s round-up of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

Big Pharma blinked. But why?

By Vik Adhopia

Something unprecedented happened this week in the opaque world of Canadian drug pricing.

Some generic prescription drugs just got a lot cheaper for everyone — and the actual prices are no longer a secret. The sudden price cut is a big deal because Canada is near the top of the list in drug spending per capita compared to other industrialized countries.

The news broke on Monday when the industry group representing Canada’s generic drug makers, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, announced they’d reached a new pricing deal with the federal, provincial and territorial governments (except Quebec).

The deal means lower prices for 70 of the most commonly prescribed generic drugs. These drugs cover conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, high cholesterol, epilepsy and heart conditions. And they will be 25 per cent to 40 per cent cheaper as of April 1.

But why would Big Pharma suddenly agree to lower prices? Fear of something worse?

Part of the story is the power of bulk buying. For the last few years, provincial governments have been negotiating together, using the clout of their collective bulk buying power to lower prices they pay under public drug plans. (Those plans usually cover seniors, Ontarians under 25, welfare recipients, Indigenous people, Mounties and military personnel.)


More than 70 per cent of all prescriptions reimbursed under Canada’s public drug plans are generic drugs, according to the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

But negotiations were different this time. The governments brought a big stick to the table — the threat of tendering. Tendering happens when governments spend tax dollars to buy goods, from office chairs to fighter jets. They make sellers submit offers, to see who can offer the lowest price. However, governments don’t do this when they buy drugs. At least not in Canada.

But thanks to Quebec, the rules of the game changed last year.

Frustrated by escalating health plan costs, Quebec decided it would play hardball with generic drug companies by making them submit tenders for the most commonly prescribed medications.

“And everybody started to panic,” said Marc-André Gagnon, a pharmaceutical policy researcher at Carleton University.

The drug companies knew that once Quebec got drug discounts, the rest of the provinces would want a similar deal. And that would start a cascade, with private insurance plans and people with no drug insurance also demanding lower prices.

In the end, Quebec didn’t have to resort to making companies compete with each for the lowest price. The generic companies blinked. They voluntarily lowered their prices. And for the first time they published the true prices — which are normally kept confidential, so that no one is certain what anyone else is paying.

“Just the threat of tendering made all generics manufacturers get together and say ‘OK we agree to reduce prices by 38 per cent across the board,'” said Gagnon.

“Whether they are covered under a public/provincial drug plan or an employer-sponsored drug plan or if they have no drug plan at all — the new prices apply to them,” said Jeff Connell, vice-president of corporate affairs for the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

So what do the generic drug companies get in return for dropping their prices? They don’t have to worry about being forced to compete with each other during the five years that the deal is in place.

“We know what the rules are, we know what the prices are … so that’s important,” Connell said.

But are we getting the lowest prices possible for these 70 drugs?  Not compared to New Zealand which is noted for its skill at squeezing the lowest prices out of drug companies with its competitive bidding process, although there are drawbacks.

When we compared the new Canadian prices with New Zealand’s list, we found many examples where Canadians will still pay two to 10 times more than the New Zealand government under its universal drug plan.

All of that suggests that prices are lower when companies are forced to compete and submit tenders. And that’s why generic companies will probably blink again in five years when the new deal expires.

Here’s how some of the Canadian and New Zealand drug prices compare under the new deal:

Generic Drug


New Canadian Price/100 pills

New Zealand Price/100 pills

Atorvastatin 80mg

High cholesterol

$ 23.42

$ 6.58 Cdn

Amlodipine 5mg

Blood pressure/Heart disease

$ 13.43

$ 1.21 Cdn

Metformin 850mg

Diabetes – Type 2

$ 3.39

$ 1.42 Cdn

Candesartan 32mg

Blood pressure

$ 22.81

$ 10.75 Cdn

Olanzapine 10mg


$ 70.88

$ 5.35 Cdn

Finasteride 5mg

Prostate Enlargement

$ 41.38

$ 4.37 Cdn

A college diploma in ‘pseudoscience?’

By Kelly Crowe

In a Canadian first, Ontario students will soon be able to graduate with a three-year advanced diploma in homeopathy from a publicly funded community collegeGeorgian College, in Barrie, Ont.

And those graduates can go on to become licensed homeopathy practitioners, now that Ontario has created an official College of Homeopaths to govern the profession the way doctors and other health professionals are regulated.

“It is really problematic on so many levels. Homeopathy is clearly nonsense. It is scientifically absurd,” said University of Alberta professor Timothy Caulfield, who has studied and written about homeopathy in Canada.

Homoeopathy word

Georgian College in Ontario says now that homeopathy is a regulated health profession, it is offering a three-year diploma in the field. (aga7ta/Shutterstock)

Homeopathy is based on a scientifically implausible premise — the belief that a mysterious water memory can cure disease. To prepare homeopathic therapies, water is exposed to a substance — a plant, a mineral or a chemical — and then diluted until there are no remaining traces of the substance.

But practitioners believe the “memory” remains, even though there is no molecular evidence for this. Then that water is sprayed on sugar pellets and sold as a remedy for a wide range of diseases — from colds to cancer.

Anything that confers credibility on the practice of homeopathy can cause scientists to tear at their hair in frustration.

And the news that Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Learning has approved a three-year advanced diploma in what most scientists consider quackery sent an apoplectic Caulfield to Twitter to start the debate.

“To have a government-funded institution legitimize it is really disappointing,” Caulfield said.

Georgian College’s Homeopathy Advanced Diploma program was deemed eligible for provincial operating funding, and homeopathy students will be able to access student loans and grants through the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

“When assessing programs for funding, the ministry considers labour market demand, student demand and alignment with the institution’s Strategic Mandate Agreement,” ministry spokesperson Tanya Blazina told CBC News in an email.

‘It is the definition of pseudoscience, it is the definition of bunk.’
– Timothy Caulfield, University of Alberta 

In Ontario, homeopathy became a licensed profession in 2015 — a move that was also controversial because there were concerns it would legitimize the practice. And apparently it has. The ministry requires that the college ensure that its programs are compliant with the regulatory body in question.

Georgian College’s dean of health, wellness and sciences Fay Lim Lambie said, now that it’s a licensed profession, the college has decided to start training young homeopaths.

“Because this is a regulated health field, we need to ensure our students will have the preparation necessary to become practitioners in the field with competent knowledge, skills and judgment,” she told CBC News.

But it’s training in what has been called a “scientifically bankrupt notion.”

“It is the definition of pseudoscience, it is the definition of bunk,” said Caulfield.

Yet some Canadian scientists are actively testing the theory on patients in clinical trials.

At the University of Toronto’s school of pharmacy, there’s a study looking at the effect of homeopathy on ADHD —  a trial so controversial that 90 scientists sent an open letter to Heather Boon, the dean of pharmacy, asking her to stop the research.

“I’m highly skeptical that our study will show that the pills have a benefit, but until we have the results I need to keep an open mind,” Boon told CBC News.

At McMaster University in Hamilton, infectious diseases researcher Mark Loeb is testing homeopathic vaccines to see if they cause an immune response in healthy volunteers.

“Our hypothesis is that these homeopathic vaccines will not show any impact on the immune system,” Loeb told CBC News.  “We’re doing it in an unbiased manner, a placebo-controlled trial.”

At Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, a study into whether homeopathic remedies could relieve fatigue in children undergoing chemotherapy was attempted. But because the hospital refused to allow homeopaths to approach patients, and because so many parents refused to co-operate, the study was deemed unfeasible.

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, researchers tried to test homeopathic pills placed under the tongues of people on ventilators to see if that would reduce the amount of phlegm in their lungs. The trial was terminated due to slow recruitment.

Health Canada licenses homeopathy under its natural products directorate, although it has ordered some labelling changes to prevent certain health claims, particularly on children’s products.

In the U.S., homeopathy labels must carry blunt warnings that there’s no scientific evidence and that the claims are based on theories “not accepted by most modern medical experts.”

Still, the market for homeopathy is booming. It’s now a $ 3-billion industry that the FDA warns “exposes more patients to potential risks associated with the proliferation of unproven, untested products and unsubstantiated health claims.”

Recipe for an advocacy campaign: Just add media and stir things up

By Kelly Crowe

Here at Second Opinion we try to pull back the curtain to show how the health news machine operates. And this week we stumbled upon an interesting case study.

It involves a drug company, a public relations firm and a patient advocacy group. The objective? Using the media to call on governments to pay for an expensive new high-dose flu vaccine for seniors over 65.

Media spelled in blocks

Second Opinion looked into a public relations campaign calling on governments to fund a new flu vaccine for seniors. (enterlinedesign/Shutterstock )

We received several emails from a representative at Environics PR suggesting that we do a story about the need for free publicly funded access to the vaccine.

“To learn more on what seniors and governments can do,” the PR firm offered to arrange interviews with two people: a doctor and a spokesperson from CARP, the advocacy group for seniors.

But the actual client was not named. Who was paying Environics to operate this publicity campaign? We wrote back to ask.

Erin MacFarlane of Environics PR responded in an email: “We’re working with Sanofi Pasteur on this and partnering with CARP.” When we looked it up, we discovered that Sanofi Pasteur is the company that makes the high-dose flu vaccine.

When we asked why Sanofi Pasteur’s name wasn’t mentioned, we learned that we were expected to connect the dots ourselves.

“The high-dose flu vaccine was mentioned in my email and Sanofi is the company that manufactures it,” MacFarlane replied.

‘We are fully transparent about the fact that we have commercial relationships’
– Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy, CARP

Sanofi Pasteur confirmed in an email that “the current media campaign [is] a Sanofi Pasteur program around this important public health issue.”

“Sanofi Pasteur provided an unrestricted educational grant to CARP in support of a program focusing on the impact of influenza on seniors and associated preventative measures,” the company wrote.

Over at CARP, Wanda Morris, the vice-president of advocacy, said the group accepted the Sanofi Pasteur grant because “we think there’s real potential for lives to be saved and suffering to be alleviated so that aligns with our overall mission and priorities of advocating for the best possible health care and financial security for older Canadians.”

“We are fully transparent about the fact that we have commercial relationships,” Morris said.

In the original pitch to CBC, Environics also offered to arrange an interview with Dr. William Dalziel, an Ottawa gerontologist.

Dalziel said his involvement started at a Sanofi Pasteur advisory board last June. An Environics representative was there and asked if he would be part of the media campaign. He agreed.

“Environics called me and said would I be interested in media interviews and I said sure. It’s a great vaccine and needs to be given to every Canadian over 65.”

And when Environics asked him to write a newspaper letter to the editor calling on all of the provinces to offer the new high-dose vaccine, he also agreed.

He said he received no payment for media interviews or for writing the letter to the editor that appeared in the Toronto Star and in the Prairie edition of The Globe and Mail. But he did receive an honorarium for attending Sanofi Pasteur’s advisory committee meeting in June.

“I don’t want compensation. I just want to do good,” he said.

We asked another doctor for a second opinion about the new high-dose flu vaccine.

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel said she already recommends it to her elderly patients without any prompting from the drug company.

“It is a superior vaccination,” she said, adding it is too expensive for some of her patients. The retail price of the vaccine is about $ 80.

“It’s a lot of money for a senior. Seniors are on very fixed and strict budgets.”  

What about the Environics PR campaign to advocate for government funding?

“There should have been disclosure right from the beginning,” Dr. Gorfinkel said. “It hurts when it comes out later that there’s funding being received.”

“Sanofi Pasteur did not request its name be kept off the email communication,” the company told CBC News. “There was no intent from Sanofi Pasteur or Environics to hide Sanofi Pasteur’s involvement from this communication as the high-dose influenza vaccine was mentioned in the email.”

So far Ontario has announced it will pay for the high-dose vaccine next year. And Manitoba is already covering it for seniors in long-term care facilities.

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'We are not being complacent': Liberals don't expect sudden surge of Salvadoran asylum-seekers

The Liberal government has a contingency plan for a potential flood of Salvadoran asylum seekers, but it is not expecting a sudden surge of people crossing the border from the United States.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the government has been “engaging intensely” with the El Salvador diaspora, among others, and believes they are deeply embedded in their American communities with children, jobs and mortgages and not likely to abruptly flee.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced Monday that 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants now allowed to live and work in the U.S. with temporary protected status will lose their right to remain in the country in September 2019.

Hussen said because there’s a lengthy 18-month time frame for people to leave or seek legal residency, he expects many will use the time to regularize their status.

“Their first choice is to remain in the U.S.,” Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill after meeting with a joint intergovernmental task force on irregular migration.

Hussen says government continuing outreach to discourage asylum seekers1:52

“Having said that, we are not being complacent. We are making sure we are prepared for any eventuality, including a future influx of asylum seekers crossing our border irregularly and, in that regard, we are using the lessons that we learned in the summer to do so.”

Since August last year, the government has embarked on an outreach campaign to spread the word about Canadian laws and immigration system. MPs have been dispatched to meet with various community groups and stakeholders in Miami, New York, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles and used social media and online marketing tools to correct misinformation.

Humanitarian message

“Our message is not only a deterrent message but it’s also a humanitarian message, because we don’t want people uprooting their lives, their deep roots in the United States, based on misinformation,” he said.

Haitians began crossing in to Canada even before a final decision had been made on their temporary status, with more than 200 people a day in the summer months.

Hussen noted that irregular crossings have declined dramatically in the last four months, and said fluctuations in numbers are seen from year to year, and from month to month.

The U.S. granted protected status to people from El Salvador in the wake of two devastating 2001 earthquakes that left hundreds of thousands in the country homeless.

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John Herdman, decorated women's coach, makes sudden move to Canada's men's team

John Herdman, who led the Canada’s women’s soccer team to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals, is taking over the Canadian men’s program.

He replaces the fired Octavio Zambrano, who was named head coach of the Canadian men’s national team program last March. Herdman’s new title is national team head coach and men’s EXCEL director.

The surprise announcement came Monday evening.

“It was an organizational decision. Octavio’s departed Canada Soccer effective immediately,” Canadian Soccer Association president Steve Reed said in an interview.

Reed denied that any specific incident had triggered Zambrano’s sudden departure.

“We’re looking at long-term, what we felt was necessary in terms of the development of our programs on the men’s side,” he added. “And we wanted to build that long-term alignment much like we’ve experienced on the women’s side.

“When we did that organizational review, we determined that John Herdman was the right person to lead that.”

Heiner-Moller takes over women’s team

Former assistant coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller takes over the Canadian women. Coach of the Danish women’s team from 2006 to 2013, the Dane was a part of Herdman’s coaching team at the Rio Olympics as a part-time assistant before moving to Canada to be a full-time member of his staff.

Heiner-Moller’s title will be national team head coach and women’s EXCEL (developmental) director.

The Canadian men are currently ranked 94th in the world while the women are No. 5.

The 42-year-old Herdman took charge of the Canadian women in August 2011. He succeeded Italy’s Carolina Morace after a last-place finish at the 2011 World Cup in Germany.

The women’s program was in a dark place. Gradually the charismatic Herdman built it back up while developing a pipeline of young talent.

The English native took Canada to a record-high fourth in the world rankings after winning bronze at the 2016 Olympics, cracking the top five for the first time.

Herdman had been linked in some circles to the vacant English women’s coaching job but he wanted to keep his family in Canada.

He had recently talked of a move back to the men’s side of the game but not until the 2020 Olympics. It appears that the men’s opening came sooner than expected.

“I’ve done seven years with the [women’s] team,” Herdman said in an interview Monday. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it with the group.

“But I’m a builder, I’m a developer. With Canada Soccer and the rest of the crew we sort of built that program back up from scratch, built the high-performance system, built the talent development system, brought the right people in.”

“I just feel the [women’s] team is there now. They’ve got the players,” he added. “They’ve got the players to be successful and that’s often the hardest thing to do.”

Herdman previously served as head coach of New Zealand’s women’s team and national director of football development.

Huge challenge awaits

The 59-year-old Zambrano, a well-travelled coach from Ecuador, previously coached club sides in Colombia, Ecuador, Hungary and Moldova as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy and MetroStars in the early days of Major League Soccer.

His record at the Canadian helm was 3-2-2.

The Canadian men were ranked No. 117th in the world when Zambrano was hired by Victor Montagliani, currently president of CONCACAF.

Zambrano was on the job for less than a year before his sudden departure was announced Monday evening.(Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

While Herdman has inherited a huge challenge in the men’s team, whose lone World Cup qualification was in 1986, there are positive signs. Plans are under way for a domestic league in the form of the Canadian Premier League and Canada is part of a joint 2026 World Cup bid with the U.S. and Mexico.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Herdman. “It really is an exciting time for the men’s game and I think that’s where hopefully my skill sets come in as a strategic thinker, a person detailed with planning who can look towards 2026 but also keep one eye on 2022 — which is what I’ve been doing with the women’s side — synthesizing a football system to get the best out of it … and then driving the changes through, getting the right people around the team to make the changes.”

Herdman will be in charge of the senior men’s team and all national youth sides from the under-14 level.

In other moves, Bev Priestman will serve as women’s national EXCEL director (U15 to U23) and as assistant coach to Heiner-Moller.

‘Coaching is my passion’

Last November, Herdman was awarded the Jack Donohue Coach of the Year Award by the Coaching Association of Canada.

“Coaching is my passion,” Herdman said in 2011 when he was hired by the Canadian Soccer Association. “It’s what I get out of bed for every day and this is an opportunity to do something special.”

Herdman grew up playing soccer, describing himself as an “OK” central midfielder. He went on to play semi-professional football in the Northern League and for his university.

Knowing a pro career was not in the cards, he started to take coaching courses at 16. He had his own soccer school at 23 and then spent three years at the Sunderland academy where he worked with a young Jordan Henderson, now a Liverpool star.

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