After a bounce-back season that saw the Wisconsin men’s hockey team return to the NCAA tournament discussion, the Badgers must replace a key member of the coaching staff.
Associate head coach Don Granato has been hired as an assistant coach by the Chicago Blackhawks. Granato departs just a year after joining Wisconsin as part of the coaching “Dream Team” alongside his brother, head coach Tony Granato, and fellow associate head coach Mark Osiecki.
As UWBadgers.com’s Andy Baggot reports:
In essence, Don Granato is going from one dream job to another, a move he described as "bittersweet."
Not only is he returning to his Illinois roots – the Granato family is based in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove – he's being reunited with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
Granato worked with Quenneville, who has won three Stanley Cups in Chicago, when the two were employed by the St. Louis Blues in 2005-06.
Quenneville also has close ties with Tony Granato, the two having worked together when they were on staff with the Colorado Avalanche in the mid-2000s.
"My plan was not to leave after one year and I wouldn't have left after one year if I didn't think we're in the position we're in," Don Granato said.
Tony Granato and Co. inherited a program that had won 12 of 70 games from 2014 to '16 and promptly executed a dramatic turnaround.
Wisconsin finished the 2016–17 season with a record of 20–15–1, good for second place in the Big Ten. The Badgers open the 2017–18 season Oct. 1 against Michigan Tech at the Kohl Center.