Tony Granato (Downers Grove, Ill.) not only had an exceptional playing career, but since his playing days has continued to make positive contributions to hockey as a coach at the NHL, collegiate and international levels.
Granato played 13 seasons (1988-2001) in the NHL for three different teams, highlighted by four 30-goal seasons; helping the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993; and scoring 36 goals in his first campaign (1988-89) with the New York Rangers, a club record for goals by a rookie that still stands today.
Granato put up 220 points in a prolific four-year (1983-87) collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin, where he stands today fourth all-time in school history in points and third in goals (100). He was a two-time All-American for the Badgers and a finalist for the 1987 Hobey Baker Memorial Award following his 73-point senior season. A member of the UW Athletics Hall of Fame, Granato was named team MVP as a senior and also earned WCHA Student Athlete of the Year honors.
Following his college career, Granato spent the 1987-88 season with the U.S. Men’s National Team and ultimately represented the U.S. in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, one of seven times he donned the red, white and blue as a player on the international stage.
His NHL debut came in 1988-89 with the New York Rangers where he made an immediate impact. Granato was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team after leading the Rangers in goals with 36 and contributing 63 points in total. In 1990, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings where his prolific goal scoring was key in L.A.’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals. In January of 1996 he suffered a serious head injury that would require surgery, causing speculation he would not play again. Granato, however, defied the odds and returned to the ice in 1996-97 after being traded to San Jose and not only earned the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy that season, but played in the NHL All-Star Game in front of his hometown fans in San Jose. He retired following the 2000-01 season having played in 774 NHL regular-season games with 492 points, including 248 goals and 244 assists. He also played in 79 playoff games and contributed 43 points (16G, 27A).
During his playing career, in addition to being named to the 1988 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, Granato also played for Team USA in 1991 Canada Cup; in three IIHF Men’s World Championships (1985, 1986, 1987) and in two IIHF World Junior Championships (1983, 1984).
Following retirement, Granato worked in the media for a brief time, but ultimately was called to coaching. He spent 13 seasons in the NHL as a head or assistant coach with 12 of those campaigns including winning records. Granato’s career included six seasons (2002-04; 05-09) behind the Colorado Avalanche bench, highlighted by two stints as head coach (02-04; 08-09) during which time he led the Avalanche to a 102-78-17 record, including a Northwest Division title in 2003 and two appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He went on to serve as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins for five seasons (2009-14) where he helped the Penguins to playoff appearances in all five campaigns and at least 101 points in all but the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13. After two seasons as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings (2014-16), Granato was named the head men’s ice hockey coach at his alma mater in 2016 and continues in that role today. He was named the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Memorial Award that year as national coach of the year.
Granato has twice been involved at the highest levels of international hockey on the coaching front, serving as head coach of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team and an assistant coach for the 2014 squad.