USA Hockey has announced the appointment of Tony Granato as the head coach of America’s men’s ice hockey team for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Granato was an assistant coach for the US Olympic hockey team at Sochi 2014, where the country lost to Finland in the bronze medal match.
He also played for the country in seven international competitions, including the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, the 1991 Canada Cup, three International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Championships and two IIHF World Junior Championships.
Currently the head men’s ice hockey coach at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, Granato spent 13 seasons as either a head coach or assistant coach in the National Hockey League (NHL), a year after retiring from a 13-year playing career.
A four-time 30-goalscorer in the NHL, he skated for the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks before taking up coaching roles with the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins and most recently the Detroit Red Wings from 2014 to 2016.
Joining Granato on the coaching staff will be assistant coaches Keith Allain, Chris Chelios, Ron Rolston and Scott Young.
Allain is returning as a US Olympic men’s ice hockey team assistant coach for the third time after serving in the same role at the Albertville 1992 and Turin 2006 Winter Olympics.
The three other assistants are all undertaking their role for the first time.
Chelios, a four-time Olympian as a player and a Hockey Hall of Famer, previously served as an assistant coach for the bronze medal-winning US national junior team from 2016.
Rolston previously served seven seasons as a head coach at USA Hockey’s national development team from 2004 to 2011.
During that stint, he guided the US to three gold medals and one silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship.
Young, a three-time Olympian as a player, was named director of player development for the Pittsburgh Penguins last Friday (July 28) having served on the coaching staff of his alma mater, Boston University, since 2014.
He began as the director of hockey operations at Boston University before moving behind the bench as an assistant coach the last two seasons.
“We’re thrilled to have such an experienced group leading our men’s Olympic team,” Jim Smith, President of USA Hockey, said.
“These individuals have been a part of some significant moments in USA Hockey history, from winning championships as players to building gold medal-winning teams as staff members.”
The coaching staff look set to be tasked with the challenge of leading a team which is set to be shorn of NHL players at the Winter Olympics.
The league’s bosses revealed the 2017-2018 calendar, which is scheduled to run from October 5 to April 7, with no break for next year’s Games factored in.
The NHL issued a statement in April claiming their players would not travel to South Korea.
It comes after an International Olympic Committee decision not to pay transportation and insurance costs for athletes going to the Games.
Organizers are still hopeful of reaching an agreement to ensure participation of players from the league.
On the management side, Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, has been named general manager, while Ben Smith will serve as director of player personnel.
Johannson has made six appearances with a US Olympic men’s ice hockey team, including twice as a player, once as team leader and three times in management.
Smith has been part of four US Olympic coaching staffs in his career, including three times as head coach of the US Olympic women’s ice hockey team and once as assistant coach of the US Olympic men’s ice hockey team.
Having led the US to its first-ever gold medal in women’s hockey at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, he is widely involved in player evaluation for USA Hockey international teams, including the gold medal-winning 2017 US national junior side.
“The experience, passion and success our management and coaching staff have between them ensure that we’ll have a team well prepared to win gold in Pyeongvhang,” Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, said.
Gavin Regan, vice-president of USA Hockey and chair of the organisation’s international council, added: “We’re excited about the staff we have in place and look forward to the next several months as we prepare for the Games.”
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.