New team, who dis? US players form chemistry via group chat - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

New team, who dis? US players form chemistry via group chat

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). Members of the United States men's hockey team practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). Members of the United States men's hockey team practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). Members of the United States men's hockey team practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). Members of the United States men's hockey team practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). United State's Ryan Gunderson battles controls the puck against Mark Arcobello, left, during practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). United State's Ryan Gunderson battles controls the puck against Mark Arcobello, left, during practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). United State's goalie Brandon Maxwell reaches for a puck as Jordan Greenway, left, and Ryan Donato watch during practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato). United State's goalie Brandon Maxwell reaches for a puck as Jordan Greenway, left, and Ryan Donato watch during practice ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) - Thrown together from leagues all over the world, the players shook hands and introduced themselves to teammates they'd never met but know well thanks to a bit of technology.

Long before their first practice together Friday, members of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team connected via a group chat. They talked hockey, logistics and life, and it's already paying dividends.

"When we get in the locker room today, we feel like we've known each other for a while," forward Brian O'Neill said.

The U.S. was among the final teams to get on the ice together as a group, save for many playing at the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November. With just five practices to get up to speed with coach Tony Granato and each other, the group chat and a website to study various systems were essential to bonding and developing camaraderie. Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato told her brother such bonding was key in a short international tournament.

Players got comfortable with each other so quickly it didn't take long for them to start making fun of each other and feeling like a team.

"It kind of builds chemistry," forward John McCarthy said. "You get to know guys, and guys are chirping each other back and forth a little bit."

There are few things hockey players enjoy more than chirping at each other, so naturally much of the conversation came with sarcasm and revolved around ribbing each other. Defenseman Matt Gilroy said it helped players grow closer, whether they knew each other or not.

From the oldest player in 39-year-old captain Brian Gionta to the youngest in 20-year-old Troy Terry, differences and the distance gap disappeared among all the messages from players at all hours of the day.

"Guys are all over the world playing and certain guys are playing against each other in different leagues, so stuff happens in a game and you get to hear from it and guys are always just checking in," Gilroy said. "You wake up (to) guys in America texting different stories. It's just been a lot of fun because we don't get a lot of time together, but it's amazing with technology you feel like you know these guys now, so it's been a lot of fun."

Gilroy put O'Neill, a teammate with Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League, in charge of organizing the group chat on WhatsApp and called it "our first challenge as a team." Gilroy apparently wanted an outlet to give other players a hard time, so he was active on the chirping front.

Group chats weren't a thing when Granato played at the 1988 Olympics, though he loved the idea to go along with his planning. Granato and assistant Ron Rolston tried to get players digitally prepared by giving them some homework to study before getting the whiteboard out for some more hands-on teaching at Gangneung Hockey Centre.

"We've been able to post some video and some different things for them to read and kind of get a little head start," Granato said. "You kind of feel even though we haven't been together, we still feel like we've been able to do a lot of coaching and getting to know the players a lot better over the past month and a half."

After a few players experienced travel delays, the U.S. will have its first practice with full attendance Saturday ahead of the tournament opener Feb. 14 against Slovenia. Granato waited for all his players to arrive before convening his first meeting to talk about late general manager Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly last month at 53. He will be honored with his own locker stall and be thought of during the Olympics.

"We addressed the fact that we're all in this room is the person that's not here with us," Granato said. "We got through that, and we got through the fact that there's plenty of ways that we will honor him with how we act, how we play. We're going to do everything we can that he saw in us to give us this opportunity."

Getting this opportunity because the NHL isn't participating in the Olympics for the first time since 1994 is something Granato believes helped grow a brotherhood among his 25 players.

"They all realize they have a unique opportunity and they're very similar in lots of different ways," he said.

___

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

___

More AP Olympics: https://wintergames.ap.org

___

This story has been updated to correct Gionta's age.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • The Latest: Angry students, parents confront Sen. Rubio

    The Latest: Angry students, parents confront Sen. Rubio

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 7:03 AM EST2018-02-21 12:03:34 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:48 AM EST2018-02-22 12:48:49 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser). Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors Tanzil Philip, left, is comforted by fellow student Diego Pfeiffer as Philip speaks to Leon High School students after arriving in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018. The ...(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser). Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors Tanzil Philip, left, is comforted by fellow student Diego Pfeiffer as Philip speaks to Leon High School students after arriving in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018. The ...
    The day before 17 people were gunned down inside a Florida school, a co-worker says the suspect made plans to go with him to a shooting range.More >>
    The day before 17 people were gunned down inside a Florida school, a co-worker says the suspect made plans to go with him to a shooting range.More >>
  • Civil disobedience: Teen shooting survivors shake up Capitol

    Civil disobedience: Teen shooting survivors shake up Capitol

    Thursday, February 22 2018 12:23 AM EST2018-02-22 05:23:55 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:48 AM EST2018-02-22 12:48:16 GMT
    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). Aria Siccone, 14, a 9th grade student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where more than a dozen students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, cries as she recounts her story from that day...(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). Aria Siccone, 14, a 9th grade student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where more than a dozen students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, cries as she recounts her story from that day...
    Some of the high school students who traveled to Florida's state capital for protests after last week's mass shooting committed what may have been their young movement's first act of civil disobedience.More >>
    Some of the high school students who traveled to Florida's state capital for protests after last week's mass shooting committed what may have been their young movement's first act of civil disobedience.More >>
  • Republican congresswoman: Many mass murderers are Democrats

    Republican congresswoman: Many mass murderers are Democrats

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 11:25 PM EST2018-02-22 04:25:17 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:48 AM EST2018-02-22 12:48:06 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File). FILE - In this June 10, 2015 file photo, assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, speaks during a news conference at the Capitol, in Albany, N.Y. The Republican congresswoman from upstate New York says "many" people wh...(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File). FILE - In this June 10, 2015 file photo, assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, speaks during a news conference at the Capitol, in Albany, N.Y. The Republican congresswoman from upstate New York says "many" people wh...
    Republican congresswoman says 'many' people who commit mass murder are Democrats, but she offers no evidence; Democratic challenger calls her comments 'disgusting' and 'toxic'.More >>
    Republican congresswoman says 'many' people who commit mass murder are Democrats, but she offers no evidence; Democratic challenger calls her comments 'disgusting' and 'toxic'.More >>
  • NationalMore>>

  • Senate to weigh punishment for member accused of misconduct

    Senate to weigh punishment for member accused of misconduct

    Thursday, February 22 2018 2:43 AM EST2018-02-22 07:43:54 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:48 AM EST2018-02-22 12:48:04 GMT
    (AP Photo/Steve Yeater, File). FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2018, file photo, California state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, announces that he will take a month-long leave of absence while an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him are c...(AP Photo/Steve Yeater, File). FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2018, file photo, California state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, announces that he will take a month-long leave of absence while an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him are c...
    The California Senate is preparing to debate punishment for a lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct.More >>
    The California Senate is preparing to debate punishment for a lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct.More >>
  • Shooting town hall: Rubio on the defensive on gun control

    Shooting town hall: Rubio on the defensive on gun control

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 10:48 PM EST2018-02-22 03:48:58 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:45 AM EST2018-02-22 12:45:50 GMT
    (Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP). Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are recognized before a CNN town hall broadcast, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla.(Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP). Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are recognized before a CNN town hall broadcast, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla.
    Republican Sen. Marco Rubio put on defensive at televised town hall event by angry students, teachers and parents demanding stronger gun-control measures after school shooting rampage.More >>
    Republican Sen. Marco Rubio put on defensive at televised town hall event by angry students, teachers and parents demanding stronger gun-control measures after school shooting rampage.More >>
  • It's OK to use nasal spray flu vaccine again, US panel says

    It's OK to use nasal spray flu vaccine again, US panel says

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 2:54 PM EST2018-02-21 19:54:48 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 6:56 AM EST2018-02-22 11:56:07 GMT
    Federal panel says it's OK for doctors to start using a kid-friendly nasal spray flu vaccine again.More >>
    Federal panel says it's OK for doctors to start using a kid-friendly nasal spray flu vaccine again.More >>
  • 2018 Winter Olympics2018 Winter OlympicsMore>>

  • At Olympics, omnipresent flags are a tricky political dance

    At Olympics, omnipresent flags are a tricky political dance

    Thursday, February 22 2018 5:18 AM EST2018-02-22 10:18:04 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:47 AM EST2018-02-22 12:47:59 GMT
    (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File). FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, members of the North Korean delegation wave flags at the women's slalom at Yongpyong alpine center at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While in South Korea,...(AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File). FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, members of the North Korean delegation wave flags at the women's slalom at Yongpyong alpine center at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While in South Korea,...
    Olympic organizers must carefully choreograph the political implications of the flags that represent each nation.More >>
    Olympic organizers must carefully choreograph the political implications of the flags that represent each nation.More >>
  • US women beat Canada for gold in a 3-2 shootout thriller

    US women beat Canada for gold in a 3-2 shootout thriller

    Thursday, February 22 2018 2:34 AM EST2018-02-22 07:34:20 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:47 AM EST2018-02-22 12:47:41 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt Slocum). United States celebrates winning gold after the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum). United States celebrates winning gold after the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

    Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds with a 3-2 shootout victory.

    More >>

    Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds with a 3-2 shootout victory.

    More >>
  • Shiffrin gets silver in Vonn's last Olympic race; Gisin wins

    Shiffrin gets silver in Vonn's last Olympic race; Gisin wins

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 11:37 PM EST2018-02-22 04:37:26 GMT
    Thursday, February 22 2018 7:47 AM EST2018-02-22 12:47:25 GMT
    (AP Photo/Christophe Ena). United States' Lindsey Vonn comes to a stop in the finish area of the women's combined downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena). United States' Lindsey Vonn comes to a stop in the finish area of the women's combined downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

    Lindsey Vonn, the leader after the downhill portion, made a mistake early in the slalom and didn't finish in what's likely the final race of her Winter Games career.

    More >>

    Lindsey Vonn, the leader after the downhill portion, made a mistake early in the slalom and didn't finish in what's likely the final race of her Winter Games career.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly