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U.S. captain, head coach named for men’s hockey world championship

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After an Olympics without NHL players, the U.S. men’s hockey team brought back star power by naming the first member of its world championship team — Patrick Kane, the most accomplished player to suit up for worlds in at least a decade.

Kane, a two-time Olympian and 2010 silver medalist, was named captain for next month’s tournament in Denmark. More roster members are expected to be named later this week.

USA Hockey also named Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill as the world championship head coach, succeeding Olympic coach Tony Granato of the University of Wisconsin.

Kane and Blashill were available as their NHL teams did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs that start this week.

Kane played in one previous world championship — in 2008, following his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks when he earned the Calder Trophy. He co-led the U.S. at that world championship with 10 points.

Several players have gone more than 10 years between world championship appearances for the U.S., including Hockey Hall of Famers Mike Modano (12 years) and Phil Housley (11 years). Kane is the most accomplished American on a world championship team since Modano’s last appearance in 2005.

Blashill, coming off his third season guiding the Red Wings, was also head coach at 2017 Worlds, where the U.S. lost to Finland in the quarterfinals.

Blashill’s assistants are 2014 Olympic head coach Dan BylsmaDon Granato (Tony’s brother and Blackhawks assistant), and Seth Appert.

The U.S. last won worlds in 1960.

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No U.S. goalies on NHL All-Star teams one year before Olympics

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No U.S. goalies were selected for the NHL All-Star Game for the first time since 2004, but that shouldn’t significantly heighten concern for the PyeongChang Olympics (assuming the NHL participates).

The NHL All-Star rosters are here, including eight goalies (two per division).

Arguably the top three U.S. goalies are all out with significant injuries.

Jonathan Quick, who played the lion’s share of the minutes at the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, suffered a groin injury in the Los Angeles Kings’ season opener on Oct. 12, hasn’t played since and is expected to be out at least another month.

Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard suffered lower-body injuries in the same game Dec. 20 and haven’t played since.

Bishop, the U.S. No. 2 at the World Cup, was a Vezina Trophy finalist two of the last three seasons.

Howard, a 2014 Olympian, ranked in the top three in the league in goals-against average and save percentage for the first two months of the season.

However, healthy, primary U.S. goalies are not particularly excelling.

Among goalies with more than 20 games played this season, no Americans rank in the top 10 in the NHL in goals-against average or save percentage.

MORE: NHLPA head more optimistic than ever about 2018 Olympics

Angela Ruggiero to become fourth women’s player in Hockey Hall of Fame

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Four-time U.S. Olympic medalist Angela Ruggiero will be the fourth female player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ruggiero is part of the 2015 class (to be inducted Nov. 9) with Olympic medalists Nicklas Lidstrom (Sweden), Sergei Fedorov (Russia), Chris Pronger (Canada) and Phil Housley (U.S.).

Women’s players were first inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, beginning with Cammi Granato, who captained the first U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team to gold at Nagano 1998, and Canadian trailblazer Angela James.

Another Canadian, two-time Olympic medalist Geraldine Heaney, was inducted in 2013.

Ruggiero, now an International Olympic Committee member, was the only member of the 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team born in the 1980s. The defenseman also won medals in 2002 (silver), 2006 (bronze) and 2010 (silver) before retiring.

She’s one of five American hockey players to compete in four Olympics, joined by Jenny PotterJulie Chu and Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk.

Ruggiero was also a player in EA Sports’ NHL ’13 video game, along with perhaps the greatest female player of all time, five-time Canadian Olympic forward Hayley Wickenheiser, who is still active at age 36 and will surely be inducted into the Hall after her retirement.

U.S. grouped with Russia in 2018 Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament