PLYMOUTH, Mich. — The NHL won’t have a presence at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, so the United States men’s hockey team unveiled a contingency plan. On Friday, USA Hockey introduced former Colorado Avalanche and current Wisconsin Badgers head coach Tony Granato as its Olympic coach and Jim Johannson as general manager.
The U.S. roster will consist of collegians, minor leaguers and players on overseas contracts.
“I’m extremely honored to be here. I’m looking forward to the challenge of putting together a team that will compete for a medal.” said Granato, 53, who left his position as a Detroit Red Wings assistant in March 2016 to accept the job at his alma mater.
Granato coached the Avalanche for parts of three seasons — 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2008-09 — compiling a 104-78-17-16 record.
Granato, an Illinois native, played 13 years in the NHL from 1998-2001, scoring 248 goals in 775 games with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He also played on the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.
“The experiences we’ve all had in the game, we’ve been blessed to wear the American sweater,” Granato said.
Johannson, a two-time Olympian (1988, 1992), is the assistant executive director of hockey operations at USA Hockey. Current Red Wings adviser Chris Chelios and Boston University assistant Scott Young — decorated former players who have competed in multiple Olympics — were named assistant coaches.
Rounding out the coaching staff are Ron Rolston and Yale coach Keith Allain who, like Granato, will take a break from the NCAA schedule during the Games.
NHL players have competed in the Olympics every cycle since 1998, but this year, commissioner Gary Bettman has deemed the event too disruptive to the schedule.
The U.S. hasn’t won gold since its famous 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.
In the nine Games since, the U.S. has reached the podium just twice — silver medals in 2002 and 2010. The U.S. finished fourth at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.