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Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Bob Nicholson is expected to step down Friday. Under his watch, Canada won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in men’s and women’s hockey.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Bob Nicholson bid farewell to Hockey Canada at its 2014 annual general meeting Saturday, making himself available for a new job, perhaps with an NHL team or even internationally.

Nicholson, Hockey Canada's president and CEO for 16 years, announced he was stepping down two months ago. On Friday, he was given a tribute at the organization's AGM in Calgary before saying his goodbye at Saturday's session.

Now, he said, comes the next step.

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"There will be NHL opportunities, other hockey opportunities internationally," he said, noting he expected them to come in the next week or so. "I want to do something I think I can succeed at. I didn't step out because I had an offer; I stepped out because it was time."

Hockey Canada has already begun its search for a new president/CEO. So many people had expressed their interest in the position that Hockey Canada had to close off applicants. Nicholson said the board of directors is putting together a short list of candidates and is expecting to make its decision in July.

In his final address, Nicholson emphasized the importance of safety and the role it plays in recruiting and retaining players.

"We have to change with the time," he said. "I really believe when I look back 10 years from now, this organization is going to go to a whole other level. As long as you continue to focus on the players, making sure players play this game safe, Canada will always be the country that carries this game worldwide."

At the AGM, the 13 branches from across the country all voiced unanimous approval for last season's rule change that prohibited body checking in players 13 years of age and younger.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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