BOSTON (AP) — 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.
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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