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Blackhawk great Chris Chelios named Team USA assistant coach for 2018 Olympics

Chelios served as the United States’ captain at three Olympic Games.

New Jersey Devils v Toronto Maple Leafs

Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios will serve as an assistant coach for the United States hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, USA Hockey announced Friday.

Tony Granato, who is Wisconsin’s head coach, will be the U.S.’ head coach in PyeongChang, South Korea. Granto is also the brother of Blackhawks assistant coach Don Granto.

Keith Allain, Ron Rolston and Scott Young will also serve as assistants. Jim Johansson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, has been named the general manager while Ben Smith, three-time U.S. women’s Olympic coach (1998, 2002, 2006) and men’s assistant (1998) will be the director of player personnel.

Chelios, who played from 1990-99 with the Blackhawks, most recently was an assistant for the Detroit Red Wings (2015-2017). He also was an assistant for the U.S.’ 2016 World Junior Championships bronze-medal team.

Chelios is no stranger to the international game having played in 11 international tournaments, including the 1996 and 2004 World Cups and four Olympic Games. He was the team’s captain for the 1998, 2002 (silver medal) and 2006 Games.

While the 1986 Stanley Cup champion and three-time Norris Trophy winner has an impressive international resume, the move to bring him on staff does come as a shock after he had some choice words for U.S.’ performance during the 2016 World Cup.

“From top to bottom, I was more surprised by the way defensively they were cheating and not playing basic 1-on-1 position, blowing the zone, lackadaisical in their own end," said Chelios, 54, who was as an ESPN analyst for the tournament alongside Brett Hull in Bristol, Connecticut. "That's where I think it all started, especially that first game against Team Europe, with the outnumbered situations and breakdowns.

"It's one thing not to score and everybody keeps talking about the guys that didn't score. But I thought their problems started in their own end."

For the first time since 1994, the NHL will not allow its players to participate in the Olympics. NHL, however, will allow American Hockey League players to compete in South Korea under the condition they only be released for the Games.

The men’s tournament beings Feb. 9 and culminates with the gold-medal game Feb. 25. Canada has won gold in three of the last four Olympics, including a pair of wins (2002) and (2010) over the U.S. in the final. The U.S. has won gold twice in 1960 and 1980.