Team USA made the headlines on Sunday when the Associated Press broke the news that longtime head coach Ken Klee was no longer behind the bench for the red, white, and blue.
Underreported story. Usually, the coach is named by now. Talked to Ken Klee recently and he's baffled. https://t.co/xDRCA2wLfi— Patrick Borzi (@BorzMN) March 4, 2017
Klee, who has been with Team USA since shortly after Sochi, was not named as Team USA’s head coach for the December series between Canada and the United States, instead being replaced by Robb Stauber, an former assistant coach with the team.
That might be why nobody caught the coaching change until now- the December series was an exhibition, a short two-game stint between two countries. But the fact that Klee won’t be returning for Worlds either raised some eyebrows, although maybe it shouldn’t have.
Team USA’s director of women’s hockey, Reagan Carey, told media that it’s USA policy to name the coaching staff of the team on an event-by-event basis, a policy that was created after the 2014 Olympics. Before every new event, USA Hockey evaluates whether they want to stay with the same coach (Klee, in this case) or go with someone else. Carey didn’t say much on Klee’s departure, but told the AP that it was part of "determining what's needed and making sure we are advancing as a team."
It only took a day for the entire saga to end: USA Hockey announced on Monday that Robb Stauber would be the head coach for Team USA for the IIHF Women’s World Championships. Joining him behind the bench are assistants Brett Strot and Chris Tamer (both were also assistants during the December series) and Paul Mara, along with goaltending coach Mike Richter.
Though we may seem some turnover with assistant coaches and staff leading up to Pyeongchang, this looks like a test run for what USA Hockey hopes will be the coaching staff for the Olympics. Carey told the AP that the goal would be to have the same coaching staff in place for the upcoming Four Nations Cup and Olympic Games.
Stauber got a chance to get his feet wet coaching the team in December, and now he’ll have his first chance to coach at the senior level at a major international tournament, and one the US has historically had success at- of the last seven world championships, the US has won six of them. How the team performs there could be a good indicator on if Stauber will stay or if Carey decides to try one more coach for Four Nations before the tournament that matters most. But it seems like for now, USA Hockey is pretty happy with Stauber as its new head coach.