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Men’s hockey world championship canceled, ending winter sports season

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The men’s hockey world championship, scheduled for May in Switzerland, has been canceled, effectively ending the Winter Olympic sports season.

“This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a press release. “The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread. The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now and support both the government bodies and the ice hockey family.”

Men’s hockey worlds traditionally mark the final major competition of the winter sports season. World championships scheduled for March or April in figure skating, women’s hockey, short track speed skating and curling were previously canceled.

The last winter sports world championships to take place this season were in bobsled, skeleton and long-track speed skating the last weekend of February.

USA Hockey had already named 1988 and 1994 Olympian Peter Laviolette as head coach, though it had not named a roster.

Last year, a U.S. team captained by Patrick Kane lost in the quarterfinals, extending the program’s drought. The last gold at a standalone worlds came in 1933. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals in 2017 and earned bronze in 2018, sandwiching an Olympic quarterfinal exit in PyeongChang without NHL players.

Finland won the world title for the first time since 2011. It became the first nation to win a world title without a player who finished that season on an NHL roster since at least 1993, not counting the 1995 and 2005 lockout years. The NHL didn’t participate in the Olympics until 1998.

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Peter Laviolette will coach U.S. men’s hockey team in 2020 world championships

Peter Laviolette
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USA Hockey has named two-time Olympic player and veteran NHL and international coach Peter Laviolette as the men’s team coach in the 2020 world championships.

Laviolette became available when the Nashville Predators fired him in January. During his 5 1/2-year tenure, the Predators reached the 2017 Stanley Cup finals and won the 2017-18 Presidents’ Trophy for the NHL’s best regular-season record.

The Predators were the fourth NHL team Laviolette has coached, starting with the New York Islanders when he was only 37 years old. He also coached the Carolina Hurricanes, with whom he won the 2006 Stanley Cup, and the Philadelphia Flyers, which made the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.

When he hasn’t been coaching in the NHL, he has been coaching with USA Hockey. In 2006, he juggled both roles, serving as head coach of the U.S. team in the Olympics while still coaching the Hurricanes. He also has coached the U.S. in the 2004, 2005 and 2014 world championships, and he was the team’s assistant coach in the 2014 Olympics.

He spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues aside from a 12-game run with the New York Rangers in 1988-98. He played in the 1988 and 1994 Olympics, the latter as team captain.

World championship teams are composed of players whose teams have been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention. The U.S. team has only won once, in 1933. The team hasn’t taken a silver medal since 1950, but it won bronze in 2013, 2015 and 2018. Laviolette led the team to bronze in 2004.

The championships will be May 8-24 in multiple cities in Switzerland.

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U.S. stays hot, beats loaded Russian team at World Hockey Championship

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A U.S. squad with one Olympian topped a more experienced Russian team 4-2 in group play at the World Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Monday.

Trevor LewisTorey KrugMark Arcobello and Brock Nelson scored for the Americans, the first three coming on Russian veteran goalie Sergey Bobrovsky. Lewis, Krug and Arcobello are playing at a senior World Championship for the first time.

Anton Belov and Sergey Plotnikov potted Russia’s tallies on AHL goalie Jack Campbell.

The U.S. team in the Czech Republic includes one Olympian, defenseman Justin Faulk. It has now won three straight games to open a Worlds for the first time since 1997.

The U.S. has won three Worlds medals since 1962, all bronze. It now leads its group after three of seven games, having defeated powers Finland and Russia. The group’s top four teams advance to the quarterfinals May 14. The next U.S. game is against Belarus on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Olympic champion Canada, captained by Sidney Crosby, and silver medalist Sweden are in the other group.

The Russian roster is more experienced than the U.S., with four-time Olympian Ilya Kovalchuk, three-time Olympian Evgeni Malkin, St. Louis Blues leading points scorer Vladimir Tarasenko and Bobrovsky, who started in goal against the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics.

The U.S. memorably defeated Russia in a shootout in group play at the Sochi Olympics, thanks to T.J. Oshie‘s heroics in sudden death.

Russia crushed the U.S. 6-1 in preliminary play at the 2014 World Championship after the Olympics, with a more experienced roster like this year in the Czech Republic. Russia went on to win gold, while the U.S. lost in the quarterfinals.

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