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U.S. Olympic men’s hockey coaches include Olympians, Hall of Famer

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The U.S. men’s hockey team will have more Olympic experience behind the bench than on the ice in PyeongChang.

Tony Granato, a 1988 Olympian, was named head coach on Friday.

His staff will include a big-name assistant — Chris Chelios, a four-time Olympian and Hockey Hall of Famer. Other assistants are three-time Olympian Scott Young and Keith Allain, a U.S. assistant coach in 1992 and 2006, and Ron Rolston.

Granato, currently the University of Wisconsin head coach, will become the first non-NHL head coach of a U.S. Olympic team since Miracle on Ice leader Herb Brooks‘ second stint in 2002.

“When the first call came in, lots of things come racing through your mind,” Granato said at a press conference.

The NHL is not sending players to the Olympics for the first time since the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games. U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said there will be no consideration for individual NHL players seeking to defy the league’s no-Olympics stance.

“No, we’re obviously going to honor our NHL partnership,” Johannson said. “We don’t anticipate any changes in that.”

Johannson said he recently spoke with at least 80 American players in European leagues, the AHL and the NCAA about possibly being in the player pool for the final 25-man roster. Recent NHL players could also be chosen.

Johannson said a “long list” of potential players must be submitted in September. A U.S. team of primarily European-based players will take part in a tournament in November in Germany.

“We’ll use that as kind of the basis to start to build out where we think we’re headed, roster-wise,” Johannson said. “Then we start to factor in the NCAA players available to us and the American Hockey League (AHL) players available to us.”

Granato, 53, scored one goal with seven assists at the 1988 Olympics, where the U.S. finished seventh without NHL participation. His younger sister, Cammi, captained the first U.S. Olympic women’s team to gold in 1998.

He went on to a 13-year NHL playing career, then coached the Colorado Avalanche on two occasions before returning to USA Hockey as an assistant under Dan Bylsma at the Sochi Olympics. The U.S. lost the bronze-medal game in Sochi.

Chelios, 55, is one of two U.S. men to play at four Olympics (Keith Tkachuk). The Hockey Hall of Famer and longtime Chicago Blackhawks defenseman suited up at the Winter Games in 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

In 2006, a 44-year-old Chelios became the oldest Olympic ice hockey player since 1928. Since retiring in 2010, he has worked in the Detroit Red Wings front office and was a U.S. assistant coach at the 2016 World Junior Championships.

“[Chelios] is probably skating somewhere thinking we’re asking him to play as well,” Granato joked Friday. “He’s probably going to apply for the player/assistant coaching position.”

Chelios will not be the only 1990s superstar in PyeongChang.

Mike Richter and Martin Brodeur, each three-time Olympic goalies who were in opposing nets in the 2002 Olympic final, have roles with USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, respectively.

Richter is an assistant with the U.S. women’s team, while Brodeur is part of the Canadian men’s team’s management group. Canada’s head coach is former Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins.

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MORE: Canada could turn to past Olympians in PyeongChang

Atlanta hosts 2020 Olympic marathon trials; full history of trials cities

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Atlanta will host the U.S. Olympic marathon trials for the first time on Feb. 29, 2020, joining a long list of cities to stage the event.

The top three male and female finishers will make the Tokyo team. The early favorites include Rio bronze medalist Galen Rupp, Boston Marathon winner Des Linden and world championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg. New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan cast doubt on whether she would go for a fifth Olympics in 2020.

The U.S. Olympic marathon team wasn’t chosen by race results until 1908.

Arthur Blake was the first U.S. Olympic marathoner at the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. How was he chosen for the team? From Bill Mallon of the OlyMADMen and USA Track and Field in 2004:

“At an indoor meet in February in Boston, Art Blake won his [1,000-yard] distance race easily and joked, ‘Oh, I am too good for Boston. I ought to go over and run the marathon in Athens.’ The remark was overheard by Arthur Burnham, a wealthy stockbroker who agreed to partly finance the trip for a group of Boston Athletic Association athletes.”

Blake dropped out of the 1896 Olympic marathon after 14 miles. Greek Spyridon Louis famously won.

Various men competed for the U.S. in the Olympic marathon in 1900, 1904 and 1906 before marathons began being used as qualifiers. The trials host list from Mallon and USATF:

1908: Boston, St. Louis
1912: Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York (modified to about 12 miles)
1920: Boston, Brooklyn, Detroit, New York
1924: Boston
1928: Boston, Chesapeake Bay, New York to Long Beach AAU Championship race
1932: Boston, Baltimore
1936: Boston, AAU Championship in Washington
1940: Boston, Yonkers (N.Y.)
1948: Boston, Yonkers
1952: Boston, Yonkers
1956: Boston, Yonkers
1960: Boston, Yonkers
1964: Culver City (Calif.), Yonkers
1968: Alamosa (Colo.)
1972: Eugene (Ore.)
1976: Eugene
1980: Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
1984: Buffalo (N.Y.), Olympia (Wash.)
1988: Jersey City (N.J.), Pittsburgh
1992: Columbus (Ohio), Houston
1996: Charlotte, Columbia (S.C.)
2000: Pittsburgh, Columbia
2004: Birmingham, St. Louis
2008: New York, Boston
2012: Houston
2016: Los Angeles
2020: Atlanta

The Olympic women’s marathon debuted in 1984. Separate host cities were used for men’s and women’s trials from 1984 through 2008.

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Kayla Harrison sets MMA debut fight after post-Olympic depression

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Double Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will make her MMA debut on June 21 at a Professional Fighters League (PFL) event in Chicago.

The fight, against an opponent Harrison chose not to publicly reveal Monday, will be 20 months since Harrison first announced she joined the promotion and would maybe fight.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight,” Harrison, 27, said on the MMA Hour on Monday. “First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”

Harrison said her first two planned opponents for the 145-pound fight (27 pounds fewer than her Olympic weight) pulled out for reasons unknown to her.

“I don’t care who I fight,” said Harrison, the only U.S. Olympic judo champion, who hopes to fight three times this year. “It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”

Harrison also said Monday that she was “very depressed” after the Rio Olympics, knowing she was done with judo, not setting a morning alarm or working out and “laying in bed all day” watching TV.

“I was a little bit lost in my life,” she said. “That high is so high that when you come off of that, it’s like your low. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Her coaches, Jimmy Pedro and Jim Pedro Sr., were against Harrison filling that void with MMA.

“Even if I was a millionaire or independently wealthy and I had no worries and I didn’t have to work, I would still be doing what I’m doing,” Harrison said. “I think at the beginning I was kind of like skittish about it. It’s tough, too, because everyone is always like, well look at Ronda [Rousey], you always have the comparisons. It’s so different from the judo world, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m kind of starting to become my own person in MMA, if that makes sense. In judo, I always had certain expectations. Everyone is sort of like, this is Kayla. This is the golden girl. This is the poster child, and so I always felt like that’s who I had to be. But in MMA, no one really knows me. Nobody cares about judo.”

In October 2016, Harrison announced she joined MMA promotion World Series of Fighting (now PFL) as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter. But she wasn’t 100 percent committed to competing at the time.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said then.

Then in June 2017, Harrison said she would fight starting in 2018. The debut was pushed from February to June.

Harrison had been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Rousey’s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo to MMA.

Harrison took boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential. Since Rio, she’s trained in New Jersey, Las Vegas and now Florida.

Harrison previously said that to compete in MMA she will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competed at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC at the time. UFC added a 145-pound division last year. Harrison said in 2016 that if she fought, it would probably be at 145 pounds.

PFL, which had no women’s weight class when Harrison signed up, planned to develop a women’s program as Harrison readied for a potential debut. Harrison said Sunday that PFL’s plan is to have a full women’s division in 2019.

“I want to be the best, undisputed,” Harrison said. “I want everyone to say, oh, who’s the best MMA fighter in the world? Oh, that’s Kayla Harrison.”

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