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The NHL made it official that its players will not be allowed to participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
USA TODAY Sports

USA Hockey can’t use NHL players, but the Americans will have an NHL-caliber coaching staff for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Former NHL and current University of Wisconsin coach Tony Granato was named head coach of the U.S. Olympic team on Friday at a press conference at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. His assistants will be Chris Chelios, Scott Young, Keith Allain and Ron Rolston.

Jim Johannson, a longtime USA Hockey executive, was announced as the team’s general manager.

Granato, 53, seems like the perfect fit for a team that will be made up of college players, minor league pros and Americans who are playing in Europe’s pro leagues. Granato’s diverse coaching background will serve him well in this position. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of college players, and the mindsets of pro players.

As an NHL player, he logged 773 games and scored 30 or more goals four times. He was only 38 when he became coach of the the Colorado Avalanche in 2002-03. Granato went 104-78-17-16 in 215 games during parts of three seasons (from 2002-04 and 2008-09) in Colorado.

But the read on Granato is that he’s a much better coach today than he was back then.  After losing his job in Colorado, he ended up as an NHL assistant coach and earned continuous praise from players and head coaches for the work he did behind the scenes.

He was a Detroit Red Wings assistant when he took the job at Wisconsin in March 2016. The Red Wings’ brass had a lot of respect for his talents.

Granato is a personable coach, a strong communicator who can be tough when he needs to be. He would be similar in style to New York Islanders coach Doug Weight, striving for mutual respect between coach and player while firmly establishing who’s in charge.

When Granato played, he was a fiery, passionate forward — and that has carried over to his coaching as it has for Weight.

Another key factor in Granato’s hiring is his pride in American hockey. He’s a former U.S. junior player, U.S. Olympian, Canada Cup performer and a three-time participant for the USA…