Ken Klee

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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U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams renew rivalry at World Championships

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One of the greatest national rivalries in Olympic history is becoming a bit one-sided.

The U.S. women’s hockey team goes into the World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, starting Saturday as the defending champion.

But it has lost four straight games to Canada and hasn’t beaten the rival to the north in an international tournament since that 2013 Worlds gold-medal game in Ottawa.

The U.S. and Canada will face off in the preliminary opener Saturday and likely again in the gold-medal game the following Saturday. All 15 previous World Championships finals have been U.S.-Canada affairs.

The U.S. roster of 23 announced Feb. 15 included 13 members of the Sochi Olympic silver medal-winning team. The biggest names are forwards Hilary Knight and captain Meghan Duggan and goalie Jessie Vetter. Though Vetter is not guaranteed to be the No. 1 goalie in Malmo.

Missing is four-time Olympian Julie Chu as well as forward Amanda Kessel, whose future is in question as she sits out this season. It was announced in September that Kessel suffered a concussion before she played at the Sochi Olympics. After Sochi, she visited a brain institute in Atlanta headed by the same doctor who worked with Sidney Crosby and two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow following their concussions.

The U.S. has a new head coach, retired 14-year NHL veteran defenseman Ken Klee, who succeeded Olympic coach Katey Stone.

Canada, too, replaced its Olympic coach, former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen, who is now an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks. The new man at the helm is Doug Derraugh, who also guides Cornell.

Derraugh’s roster in Malmo includes the forward who broke American hearts in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal games. That’s Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in the 2-0 victory at Vancouver 2010 and the final minute-tying and overtime-winning goals in the 3-2 stunner in Sochi last year.

Canada is without stalwart defenseman Hayley Wickenheiser, who has played in all five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments but is sidelined by a foot injury. Missing, too, is star goalie Shannon Szabados, who is playing men’s minor-league hockey with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths.

Hilary Knight hopes to play in NHL preseason game after Ducks practice

Canada deals U.S. another heartbreaking hockey loss

Four Nations Cup
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The U.S. women’s hockey team suffered another heartbreaking loss Wednesday night in its first game against Canada since the Sochi Olympic final.

The Americans led 2-1 with five minutes left, but Canada scored twice in a 46-second span to snatch a 3-2 victory at the Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, British Columbia.

It conjured memories of Sochi, where Canada came from behind to force overtime and won in the extra session for its fourth straight gold, also by a 3-2 score.

The teams on the ice Wednesday were a mix of Olympians and non-Olympians and missing the biggest stars from Sochi. The U.S. coach is also new, 14-year NHL veteran Ken Klee.

“We’re not really thinking back to the past,” two-time U.S. Olympian Monique Lamoureux said. “The positive thing we can take out of it is the mistakes we made are all fixable things.”

Haley Irwin and Rebecca Johnston scored the game-tying and game-winning goals on U.S. goalie Alex Rigsby. Irwin and Johnston were on the last two Canadian Olympic teams that beat the U.S. in gold-medal games. Rigsby is not an Olympian.

“We seem to always be behind in the third period, but we have a confidence, we’re eager,” Johnston said, according to PostMedia News in Canada. “We just won’t stop until the very last second.”

The U.S. next plays Sweden on Friday. It could play Canada again in the final Saturday.

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