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

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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.”

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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