Introducing The U.S. Olympic Hockey Coaching Staff

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins

By Jacob Messing

The reality of a 2018 Winter Olympics without NHL players is sinking in after the recent announcement of the U.S. men’s national team’s coaching staff.

Last week, the brass for the United States named its coaches for the upcoming international tournament, starting with Wisconsin Badgers head coach Tony Granato, who will serve in the same role for Team USA.

Chris Chelios, Ron Rolston, Keith Allain, and Scott Young will join Granato behind the bench this coming February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

While the upcoming games will be the first without NHL participation since 1994, the coaches are no strangers to the enlarged ice and altered rules of international play.

USA Hockey officials have already stated their optimism for the team, even without the large base of NHL players from which they usually have to draw.

Part of that optimism stems from the plethora of players ready to prove themselves as NHL-ready talent when they represent the US on the world's biggest stage.

Another part is the impeccable resumes of its coaching staff. Each coach has shown the ability to get through to young players and get them to buy into their systems. Their strong careers will immediately earn them the respect of their Olympic team and they are largely known for their solid communication and mutual respect in return.

The winning pedigree and combined experience of Team USA’s coaches will help push the U.S. team as it competes for its first Olympic medal since 2010 and first Olympic gold since the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.


This will be the first time Granato has been handed the head coaching position on the world stage, but he gained valuable experience as an assistant with Team USA at the 2014 Olympic Games.

The Downers Grove, Illinois, native also played for Team USA seven times, including the 1988 Olympics, 1991 Canada Cup, three IIHF World Championships (1985, 1986, and 1987) and two IIHF World Championships (1983 and 1984).


Chelios, another Illinois native, will be behind the bench for just the second time. He was an assistant coach for the bronze-winning 2016 U.S. national junior team. The three-time Stanley Cup champion played in four Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 2002, and 2006) before retiring in 2010.


While Rolston will be making just his first appearance as an Olympic coach, he previously served seven seasons as head coach for USA Hockey’s National Development team from 2004-11. The Fenton, Michigan, native led the U.S. to three gold medals (2005, 2009, and 2011) and a silver medal (2007) at the IIHF U-18 World Championship.


Allain will be behind the bench for the third time after serving as an Olympic assistant in 1992 and 2006. He coached the U.S. national junior team three times (2001, 2002, and 2011), served as an assistant for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship team (which earned him a place in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame), and two U.S. national teams (2005 and 2006).


Young, the recently named director of player development for the Pittsburgh Penguins, will be behind the bench for the first time on the international stage. However, he has represented the USA 10 times as a player. Young has played in the three Olympic Games (1988, 1992, and 2002) and is set to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame later this year.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

5 NHL Teams That Could Use Jaromir Jagr In 2017-18

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

The NHL is a month and a half into free agency, and the growing trend of ageism is claiming another group of veterans.

Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek, and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr are just a few of the formidable players still searching for new contracts.

Jagr, 45, remains a force on the ice despite having his worst full season in terms of point production. Last year, he tallied 46 points; the year before, with similar ice time and games played, he reached 66 points. However, he was stuck on a surprisingly underwhelming Florida Panthers team that was dealing with a reconstructed defense, significant injuries, and front-office turmoil.

5 NHL Breakout Candidates For 2017-18

© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets

By Jacob Messing

With each new season, fans get to see breakout performances from some of the NHL’s emerging talent. These budding superstars show glimpses of the league’s future.

While some players are stuck in the developmental level of their careers -- learning hockey at its highest level -- others consistently deliver highlight-reel action every time they step onto the ice. Last season, players such as Viktor Arvidsson, Mikael Granlund, and Nikita Kucherov moved from the former category to the latter. Who could do the same this year?

A Radical Solution To The NHL's Inconsistent Suspension Policy

© Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins

By Jacob Messing

In 2016-17, the NHL had its lowest numbers of suspensions since the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season.

The number of suspensions, cumulative games lost, and number of NHL teams that had a player suspended were all meaningfully lower than the previous three seasons.

'Soap Hockey' Offers Slippery Alternative To Backyard Pickup Games

The Soap Hockey Project Soap Hockey

By Jacob Messing

What happens when six people try to play hockey on a soap-slicked tarp in the middle of the summertime?

Apparently, they found the answer in Sweden. It’s called “Håsjösåpan,” and it’s sweeping the internet.

No NHL, No Problem: AHL Players With Olympic Potential

© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive

The NHL recently issued a statement to its teams that AHL players can be released for Olympic participation in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

3 NHL Teams That Are Hoping Blue Line Upgrades Lead To Offensive Spark

© Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports NHL: New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks

This summer hasn't seen the blockbusters of Taylor Hall for Adam Larson or P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, but a number of teams have completed savvy trades to land experienced, productive defensemen. These moves will prove more important on the ice than they may initially seem on paper. 

St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo Poised For Career Year

© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues unwrapped a somewhat hidden present in Alex Pietrangelo after the team traded Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline last season.

Fantasy Hockey: Dark Horse Player For Each Eastern Conference Team

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning

The NHL offseason is winding down after a busy summer of high-profile free agency moves, league expansion, and entry draft selections.

Fantasy Hockey: Dark Horse Player For Each Western Conference Team

© Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports NHL: St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets

The 2017-18 fantasy hockey season is approaching fast, and since your league members are already preparing so should you.