Belarus replaces head coach Dave Lewis three games into 2018 Worlds

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After an 0-3 start at the 2018 World Hockey Championship, the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation has decided to make a coaching change mid-tournament. Former Red Wings and Bruins head coach Dave Lewis is out. He’ll be replaced by Sergei Pushkov, who was serving as Lewis’ assistant.

Of course, the team is calling this a “mutual” decision, but is it ever?

It’s easy to see why the federation wasn’t thrilled about the country’s start at this year’s Worlds. They opened the tournament with three ugly losses to Sweden (5-0), France (6-2) and Russia (6-0). Getting blown out by Sweden and Russia isn’t acceptable, but it’s understandable. Losing to France by four goals is a different story.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Even though they’re a long shot to qualify for the quarters, they can still avoid relegation to Division I if they turn things around before the end of the tournament (the last-place team in each division gets relagated).

They have four games to pull themselves out of this hole, as they’ll take on Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Lewis had been the head coach of the Belarusian hockey team since December 0f 2014. He’s coached them at each of the last four World Hockey Championships. They made it to the quarterfinal in 2015 (they lost to Canada 9-0), but failed to get out of the round robin portion of the tournament in 2016 and 2017.

It’ll be interesting to see where the 64-year-old goes from here. He hasn’t had an NHL job since he was let go by the Hurricanes in 2013-14. Could this be the end of the line for him?

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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