Ken Klee
Getty Images

Former NHL defenseman no longer coaching U.S. women’s hockey team

Leave a comment

Longtime NHL defenseman Ken Klee is out as the coach of the U.S. women’s hockey team after leading the Americans to gold medals at the last two world championships.

Who’s in?

The players are waiting to hear, less than a month before the world championship and less than a year before the Olympics in South Korea.

Klee is “not our coach right now,” star forward Hilary Knight told The Associated Press on Saturday. “I just know that it was a privilege to work with him.”

Knight declined to elaborate on the reasons the players were given for the change. Reagan Carey, the team’s general manager, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. USA Hockey has been naming coaches for individual events, and former NHL goaltender Robb Stauber was the head coach for a pair of exhibitions against Canada in December.

“A lot of people have come and gone,” Knight said. “It definitely is different how they’re doing it now.”

Stauber has been involved with the women’s national team since 2010 and was the goaltenders coach for the team that won a silver medal at the Sochi Games in 2014. It is rare — but not unprecedented — for a goalie to serve as a head coach for a hockey team, with Hall of Famer Patrick Roy recently serving three years on the Colorado Avalanche bench.

Klee played for seven NHL teams during a 14-year career. Under his leadership, the U.S. women won two straight world championships and twice won the prestigious Four Nations Cup, most recently in November. But Stauber took over on the bench in December.

The roster for the world championship, including the coaching staff, has not yet been announced. They begin March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

Knight noted that Canada has twice changed coaches during the run-up to the Olympics, including just two months before the Sochi Games, when Dan Church resigned and was replaced by Kevin Dineen.

“We’ve got such a strong leadership group,” said Knight, a two-time Olympic silver medalist. “Regardless of who steps up and who’s coaching, we’ve got to do our own jobs.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 18 U.S. Olympic hopefuls to watch for PyeongChang 2018

Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

AP
Leave a comment

Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps: I’d give Conor McGregor a head start

Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: World Road Cycling Championships broadcast schedule