Avalanche stay in-house, promote Granato to familiar spot
DENVER -- Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere didn't have to look far to find a new coach: Tony Granato was already aboard as an assistant and had been the head coach once before.
"When I started this process, I looked at who all of the alternatives were going to be," he said Thursday after announcing Granato's promotion. "And the more I got into the process, the more Tony just kept coming back."
Granato led the team from 2002 to 2004, going 72-33-17-11 before he was replaced by Joel Quenneville in July 2004 and became an Avs assistant.
Quenneville parted ways with the Avalanche two weeks ago by mutual agreement.
"Tony is energetic, he's passionate, he's hardworking and a smart hockey person," Giguere said. "He has experience as an NHL coach. He's been successful as an NHL coach."
"I thought he was the best candidate and I was content that this was the guy for the team," Giguere said.
Granato said he would "be myself and the same guy I always was."
"I am going to allow the players to be the best players that they can be and I'm going to provide the environment that allows them to do this," he said.
Granato said he supported the Avs' decision to hire Quenneville in 2004 and had no problem becoming an assistant to the man who replaced him.
"I sat down with Pierre Lacroix and suggested that we needed to find the best coach available to the position. It was my decision to go along with saying we needed to bring in Joel Quenneville," Granato said Thursday.
Before becoming a coach, Granato played for 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He had 248 goals, 244 assists and 1,425 penalty minutes in 773 regular-season games.
He was selected for the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1989 and played in the All-Star Game in 1997.
During his playing days, Granato was a two-way forward known as a feisty player who would do whatever it took to win, whether by dropping his gloves against a bigger opponent or taking penalties.
He was known for putting the team ahead of individual accomplishment, sacrificing offensive chances to drop back on defense.
Quenneville was 131-92-23 in three seasons with Colorado, but just 2-2 in playoff series after inheriting a team that was on the slide after a decade of dominance in the NHL.
His departure came one week after Colorado was swept out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings.
Giguere said at the time he wanted the next coach to have an up-tempo philosophy.
"As far as system, we will design a system that allows these guys to show their talents and hopefully have career years," Granato said.
Quenneville was an assistant with the Avalanche during their Stanley Cup run in 1996, then was hired away by St. Louis. He spent eight seasons with the Blues, becoming the team's winningest coach with 307 victories.
"Whatever happens going forward, my memories are all going to be positive here," Quenneville said when his departure was announced.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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