The Red Wings’ assistant coaching search was announced as halfway done this afternoon.
Shortly after it was announced that former assistant Tom Renney was tabbed to be president of Hockey Canada, the Wings made their move. After an interview a few days ago, the Red Wings braintrust determined Monday that Tony Granato was the right man for the job. He brings in a resume as both an NHL player and coach behind the bench. Granato played 13 years for the Rangers, Kings, and Sharks, spending most of his time on the west coast. He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1997, overcoming the adversity of a near career-ending brain injury. He got into coaching after being hired by the Avalanche as an assistant in 2002-03, filling in as the head coach for the last 51 games of that campaign, compiling a 32-11-4-4 record. The following season he attained 40 wins and coached the Avs to a conference semifinal appearance. He was then put back in the assistant coaching slot from ’05-08 then promoted again to head coach in 2008-09. Overall, his head coaching record is 104-78-17-16. The last five seasons, he has been an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Overall, this appears to be a solid hiring by the Red Wings. Granato excells in the penalty killing coaching department, an area that saw Detroit finish 12th in the league this past season. Under Granato, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a top ten PK unit four times, top five three times, and the best unit in the league in 2010-11. An area where Detroit was already solid in just got a boost at their helm from the outset.
An interesting sidenote on this hiring could include the possible idea of hiring former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma as the second assistant, who had Granato as an assistant in five of his six years coaching there and played under current Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock from ’02-04 in Anaheim. Could the Grand Haven, Michigan native Bylsma want to come to a familiar situation he had as a player and as a coach? That is up to him and the Red Wings’ braintrust. For now, the first vacancy appears to have been filled successfully with Granato, and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the search goes for assistant number two.
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Granato resume courtesy of Hockey Reference and Pittsburgh Penguins website.