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USA Hockey reaching out to NHL players who may retire about Olympics

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The U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team will include no active NHL players due to the league’s non-participation stance.

But recent NHL players — even retired ones — are very much in the early roster picture.

U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said he has talked to one player “that might retire” from the NHL before the upcoming season as he gathers a pool of Olympic hopefuls. Johannson hopes to talk to more NHL veterans once the players decide about their competitive futures.

“There are a few NHL players that we’re waiting to see what they’re waiting to do,” Johannson said Friday. “Without naming names, there are some guys that have a rich history in the NHL and with USA Hockey that we think could potentially really help this roster. For what I do, I always try to get as much quote-unquote weaponry to the coaches. Trust me, we’re going to dig over every stone to see what the options are and what the fit is.”

The U.S. coaching staff was named Friday, headed by 1988 Olympian Tony Granato with four-time Olympian Chris Chelios and three-time Olympian Scott Young among the assistants.

Johansson said a “long list” of potential players for the final 25-man roster must be submitted in September.

A U.S. team of primarily European-based players will take part in a tournament in November in Germany. The U.S. staff will also look at NCAA and AHL players ahead of naming the PyeongChang team.

Johansson said he has talked to at least 80 players who could potentially be in the pool.

“I’ve basically informed, especially NCAA guys, I just informed them where I thought things were going and said, hey if you’re around, we certainly want to get you in the pool and eligible,” he said. “Other than that, I’m giving them their time and letting them decide what’s right for their family and their career. Some of that they control. Some of it they don’t control. But, as we get more into August here, and we start to know a little bit more what they’re doing, I thought it was important that they have the time to decide that first and foremost. Secondly, I’m going to come in with the informative part of it. Here’s literally what has to happen if you do want to be eligible for this. Again, would we reach out to them [former NHL players]? Absolutely. And they’ll be part of our player pool and part of our discussions.”

Canada’s management has said it is considering the likes of Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan, two Olympians who are in their 40s and mulling NHL retirement.

Potential U.S. options don’t appear to include any players of Iginla and Doan’s star caliber. However, 2006 Olympians John-Michael Liles, a 36-year-old defenseman, and Brian Gionta, a 38-year-old forward, are two NHL veterans who played last season but are currently free agents.

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MORE: Canada could turn to past Olympians in PyeongChang

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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