Tony Granato has been named the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. The 53-year-old former pro hockey player will be joined by assistant coaches Keith Allain, Chris Chelios, Ron Rolston, and Scott Young. For the first time in five Winter Games, the NHL will not be participating.
Granato is no stranger to Team U.S.A., as he has played for the international league several times himself. In 2014, Granato joined Team U.S.A. as an assistant coach for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“What you feel is honored. You feel how lucky you are that the sport of hockey has given you these opportunities. You feel pride in your country and your sport. This opportunity is pretty special. I think we’ve got a really good chance to do well and I’m excited at the opportunity,” Granato said following the announcement.
When Granato isn’t coaching hockey, he is spending time with his wife, Linda, and their four children.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Granato Is Currently Coaching College Hockey
Granato was named head coach of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s men’s hockey team on March 30, 2016. This was a very special offer for Granato, who attended the school before being drafted by the NHL. From 1983 through 1987, Granato called himself a Badger. He went on to play 13 seasons in the NHL.
Granato had a successful first season as head coach in the college division, leading his team to a second-place finish. The team earned a 20-15-1 record for the season. This season, the Badgers made it to the Big Ten Conference championship game and Granato was named the Big Ten’s coach of the year.
2. Granato Played for the Rangers, Kings & Sharks
Granato’s NHL stats include a total of 773 games, 248 goals, and 492 points.
He began his NHL career in 1988, when he was drafted by the New York Rangers. He then played seven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, before signing with the San Jose Sharks for the final five years of his career.
According to Hockey Zone Plus, Granato earned $11,338,000 from 1989 through 2001, when he retired from the NHL.
3. Granato Was on the U.S. Olympic Team in 1988
Granato played for the U.S. Olympic Team back in 1988. He played for six additional events for Team USA. Granato went to the Winter Games straight out of college, leaving the Badgers and going on to have a successful career playing professional hockey.
When he played in the Olympics, he was amongst a team of future NHLers; while NHL players didn’t start playing in the Olympics until the late 90s, Granato skated on Olympic ice with teammates Mike Richter, Peter Laviolette, Kevin Stevens and Steve Leach. Facing Team U.S.A. were the likes of Dominik Hasek, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Milan Hejduk and Peter Svoboda on the team from the Czech Republic, Pavel and Valeri Bure, Sergei Fedorov, Sergei Gonchar, Valeri Kamensky, Darius Kasparaitis, Andrei Kovalenko, Sergei Nemchinov, Alexei Yashin, Valeri Zelepukin, Alexei Zhitnik, and Alexei Zhamnov on the Russian team and Sami Kapanen, Saku Koivu, Jari Kurri, Janne Laukkanen, Jere Lehtinen, Teppo Numminen, Teemu Selänne, and Kimmo Timonen on the Finnish squad.
And that is just from the medal winners.
In 2018, Granato will be coaching a team that is not affiliated with the NHL, something with which he has personal experience with. However, he may face a challenge in putting a roster together.
“We have to look at the pool available to us and then, as the year goes on, evaluate and try and find the players. What our country does have is a ton of depth. I think this is a chance for the United States to show the rest of hockey how deep our talent pool is. This is going to be an opportunity for the U.S. to have an outstanding team and an outstanding tournament,” Granato said.
4. He’s the Older Brother of Cammi Granato
Perhaps taking after her older brother, Cammi Granato played ice hockey as well. She had an amazing career playing professionally and is known as the first woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. She received that honor back in 2010.
Other honors bestowed upon Cammi include the Lester Patrick Award in 2007, induction into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008, and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. She was named the U.S. Women’s Player of the Year in 1996.
Cammi was the captain of the U.S. women’s hockey team in 1998. That year, the team took home the Gold in the Winter Games. In addition to her time playing in the Olympics, Cammi played in every world championship for the United States women’s team from 1990 through 2005.
Fun fact: Cammi scored the first-ever Olympic goal for the U.S women’s hockey team on February 8, 1998.
5. Granato Has Served on the Coaching Staffs of the Avalanche, Penguins & Red Wings
Granato has quite the impressive resume. He has served three years as head coach for the Colorado Avalanche from 2002 to 2004 and again in the 2008-09 season. During his tenure as head coach, his team had a 104-78-17 record. Colorado also made two playoff appearances with Granato at the helm.
Granato served as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2009 through 2014. He was also on the Detroit Red Wings staff, but his time with the team was short-lived, relatively speaking. He joined the team ahead of the 2014 season, but was made an offer by his alma mater that he couldn’t resist. In March 2016, it was announced that Granato would be the new head coach of the men’s hockey team at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.