‘Hockey players aren’t runners’: Olympic captain Meghan Duggan set for NYC Marathon

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Meghan Duggan entered the year having never run more than two miles at a time.

“In hockey,” she said, “it was really a no-no to do any type of long endurance training.”

Now the three-time Olympic medalist is in her final preparations to race Sunday’s New York City Marathon.

“It’s opened up a whole new world to what my body can go through,” she said.

Duggan, who retired from hockey in 2020 after captaining the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, decided to make her 26.2-mile debut to raise awareness for the Women’s Sports Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Billie Jean King in 1974 to advance the lives of women and girls through sports.

In addition to serving as Women’s Sports Foundation president, Duggan is the New Jersey Devils director of player development and a mother of two.

Juggling so many responsibilities, the 35-year-old occasionally got out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to do long runs before her kids woke up. Or, she did them on the treadmill at night after her kids went to sleep.

“I’ve had to be flexible as we all do in life,” she said.

VIDEO: Duggan on training for New York City Marathon

Duggan’s two children, George and Olivia, are her biggest cheerleaders.

Meghan Duggan
Meghan Duggan at a triathlon relay in July in Ontario. (Courtesy Meghan Duggan)

During training runs, Duggan’s wife, Canadian Olympic hockey champion Gillian Apps, pulled the kids in a bike trailer as they clapped and screamed, “run mamma run!” Duggan often finds George running laps around the house yelling “marathon, marathon!”

“It’s important for me to show my kids you can do hard things,” Duggan said.

Duggan is planning to race alongside Haley Skarupa, a gold medal-winning teammate at the 2018 Winter Games. Erika Lawler, a 2010 Olympic silver medalist hockey player, also planned on running the race until she suffered an injury.

“Hockey players aren’t really meant to be runners,” Duggan said, “but I think that’s why Haley and I are so excited to do it.”

Duggan has not been shy in seeking advice. At the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports gala last month, she cornered Jocelyn Rivas, the youngest person to run 100 marathons, and Alysia Montaño, a U.S. Olympic 800m runner who made worldwide headlines for racing while eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships.

“It’s certainly made me really respect other sports and what goes into it,” Duggan said. “Not that I didn’t before, but I never had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of another athlete in a different sport. This is kind of my first time, and it’s been eye-opening and enjoyable.”

Duggan’s goal is to complete the 26.2 miles in under four hours.

“I think it’s a realistic goal,” Duggan said. “That’s something that is not easy to do and will be incredibly challenging, but I think even just the accountability of saying it out loud makes it that much more exciting.”

This might not be the last marathon for Duggan, who grew up in Danvers, Mass.

“I’ve had a lot of friends run [the Boston Marathon],” she said. “I would love to do that, but I’m going to get through this one first, and then we’ll see.”

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Mike Keenan to coach Italy men’s hockey team at 2026 Winter Olympics

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Mike Keenan was named coach of the Italy men’s ice hockey team on Friday, giving the Stanley Cup winner a chance to guide the host country at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

Keenan, who will be 76 in 2026, last coached China-based Kunlun Red Star in the KHL in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of great international experiences but this is both a challenge and a unique opportunity for me,” Keenan said. “I’m excited to be involved in a building and development process in the run up to an Olympics. . . . Every once in a while, miracles happen. Italy is a nation passionate about sports so that’s why I want to set high expectations.”

Keenan coached the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994 and also won the KHL at Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2014.

Italy finished 11th in the 12-team tournament at the 2006 Torino Games when it also qualified as host. That was the team’s previous participation at the Olympics.

After finishing last in its group at the world championship in May, Italy was relegated to the Division I worlds for next year.

Greg Ireland, Italy’s previous coach, left to lead Kunlun Red Star.

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Noora Räty, Finland’s star goalie, announces national team retirement

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Noora Räty, the fortress of Finland’s hockey team for more than a decade and arguably the world’s best goalie of her generation, announced her retirement from the national team at age 33.

“When I played my first national match against Sweden in October 2004, I would never have guessed what kind of journey I would still have: It was a privilege and unforgettable trip!” Räty posted Friday, according to an Instagram translation from Finnish. “My national team career ended on Monday 17.1 at 20:30 [Jan. 17, 2022], that I don’t have a place in the Olympic team this time.”

Räty, who made it to four Olympics and nine world championships and played more than 200 games for the Naisleijonat (Lady Lions), disputed her omission from Finland’s Olympic team this past winter.

“What helped me move on was for example a phone call I received, where I was told the truth and that other coaches except the head coach wanted to pick me to Beijing,” Räty wrote in the post. “The claim that Anni [Keisala, named best goalie of the tournament at the 2021 Worlds] was the choice of all coaches as the number one goalkeeper was also refuted. (@annikeisala you are a boss 😎💪🏻)! Moral of the matter: be honest. Always speak the truth, even if the truth is unpleasant.”

Räty won six bronze medals between the Olympics and world championships (all behind the U.S. and Canada).

She earned silver in her last major tournament at the 2019 Worlds in her hometown of Espoo. Finland beat Canada in the semifinals, then appeared to beat the U.S. in overtime in the final. But Petra Nieminen‘s golden goal was controversially disallowed upon review for goalie interference. The U.S. later won in a shootout.

Räty, who contemplated retirement after the 2014 Olympics, was named best goalie at the world championship a record five times, including in 2019.

Räty, who just published a book titled “Leijona-Kuningatar” (Lion Queen), will be China’s goalie coach at next year’s world championship, according to Finnish media.

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