Mike Sullivan named US men's hockey coach for 2022 Olympics

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FILE - Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan disagrees with a penalty called during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh, in this Saturday, April 24, 2021, file photo. Mike Sullivan has been named U.S. men’s hockey coach for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Sullivan will be behind the bench if the NHL participates. No deal is currently in place. Sullivan coached the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
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Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been named U.S. men’s hockey coach for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Sullivan will be behind the bench if the NHL participates, which is still a question. There is not a deal currently in place to send NHL players to the Olympics, and negotiations are ongoing.

“I’m going to operate on the premise that the NHL and the (International) Olympic Committee are going to work towards an agreement and we’re going to participate,” Sullivan said on a video call with reporters Wednesday. “That’s the approach that we have to take and, we’re just entrusting that the powers that be are going to work out an agreement and hopefully that will be sooner than later.”

Sullivan coached the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. USA Hockey expects to name his assistants later this summer.

If the league and Players' Association get an Olympic agreement done with the IOC and International Ice Hockey Federation, Sullivan would be the second Penguins coach in as many Games with NHL participation. Dan Bylsma coached the U.S. team in Sochi in 2014.

“It’s hard to articulate in words what this means to me to have the opportunity to be the head coach for our Olympic team in Beijing,” Sullivan said. “I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity.”

Sullivan was 12 years old for the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 and cited it as an inspiration for him. He was a U.S. assistant at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and said he has learned about the importance of pulling a team together quickly for a short tournament.

USA Hockey made the announcement Wednesday morning, tabbing Sullivan and along with Joel Johnson for its women’s team and David Hoff for the Paralympic sled hockey team.

“We’re thrilled with the head coaches that will guide our teams at the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said. “We’ve said all along that our objective is to bring home three gold medals, and with the experience and leadership possessed by Mike, Joel and David, we know our teams are in good hands.”

Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman remains general manager for the U.S. men's hockey team as an investigation is ongoing about two players alleging a then-assistant coach sexually assaulted them in 2010. Bowman, who has been Chicago's GM since 2009, has pledged to cooperate with the investigation being run by a former federal prosecutor.

Asked about the possibility of Bowman recusing himself from the Olympic team given his reported role in the situation, Kelleher said USA Hockey has been in contact with the Blackhawks and the NHL and would monitor the investigation and let it progress.

On the women's side, Johnson has two decades of college coaching experience. He's currently the head coach at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has moved up to NCAA Division. Johnson spent 16 seasons over two stays as an assistant at Minnesota, where he was a part of six different national championship teams. Johnson first joined Team USA as an assistant in 2018.

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