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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

Salt Lake City forms committee to weigh Olympic bid

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has formed an exploratory committee to decide if the city will bid to host the Winter Olympics in either 2026 or 2030 — taking a key step toward trying to become a rare two-time host city.

The group made up of elected officials, business leaders and one key member of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City said Monday that it plans to make a recommendation to state leaders by Feb. 1.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Olympic Committee board said Friday that it was moving forward with discussions about bringing the Winter Games to America for either 2026 or 2030.

Because Los Angeles was recently awarded the 2028 Summer Games, a bid for 2030 would make more sense, chairman Larry Probst said Friday.

The USOC has until next March to pick a city; those expressing interest include Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno, Nevada.

Innsbruck, Austria, said Sunday it wouldn’t bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, taking one more city out of the running. The hosting rights are set to be awarded in July 2019.

The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Since 2012, Salt Lake City has been letting Olympic officials know the city was ready and willing to host again with a plan based on renovating and upgrading venues that have been in use since the Games ended.

The city had previously estimated it could put on a Winter Olympics for about $2 billion, but the committee will come up with a new cost estimate, said Jeff Robbins, the president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.

Robbins is one of three co-chairs on the committee along with Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Fraser Bullock, a key player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics.

Robbins said he thinks the city has a great shot at winning a bid based on the relatively low cost and because it has demonstrated it knows how to maintain venues and keep them in use, putting the city in line with Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach created for future Olympics calling for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

There’s an eight-lane interstate running from the Salt Lake airport, which was upgraded for the Olympics, to Park City, which is the home of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host for key U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country skiing.

Overall, the area has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished more than 15 years ago.

He said an expanded light rail train line grid around Salt Lake City and a $3 billion airport renovation already underway are two examples of how Salt Lake City is even better prepared now to host than in 2002.

But he and other organizers will also have to answer questions about a bidding scandal that marred the 2002 Games and resulted in several International Olympic Committee members losing their positions for taking bribes.

“You can’t control the past,” Robbins said. “The results of what happened I think would certainly speak volumes. While there was some challenges, we hosted arguably one of the best Olympics ever hosted.”

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Simone Biles announces new coach

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When Simone Biles begins her comeback in earnest next month, she’ll be training under a new coach — Laurent Landi — who coached one of her Olympic teammates, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Landi, a 39-year-old former French gymnast, guided Rio uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian at the Dallas-area gym WOGA, along with wife Cecile.

“[Landi] was in Dallas, which is not far away, and had recently left WOGA, and I had worked with alongside him and know how he is with athletes,” Biles said, according to the newspaper. “He does a good job not letting pressure get to the athletes. You can see some coaches get stressed but he doesn’t.”

Biles’ previous coach since she was 7, Aimee Boorman, left their Houston-area gym for a gymnastics job in Florida after the Rio Games.

Biles said last week she plans to return to full-time training Nov. 1 and return to competition next summer.

Kocian is now at UCLA and uncertain to return to elite gymnastics.

Two other Final Five members — Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez — have said they plan to return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But neither has announced a return to the gym like Biles.

The last member — 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas — has not said whether she will come back.

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