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Granato returns as Avalanche coach

NHL.com @NHL

DENVER (AP) -Tony Granato once stepped aside as Colorado coach because he thought it was in the best interest of the Avalanche.

Now, he's back in charge. Granato returned as coach of the Avalanche on Thursday, four years after he was demoted from the job.

Granato will take over for Joel Quenneville, who parted ways with the Avalanche two weeks ago by mutual agreement. Granato has been serving as an assistant coach since July 2004, when Colorado brought in Quenneville.

Back then, Granato was willing to cast his ego aside in order to bring in a quality coach such as Quenneville.

He still thinks it was the best decision.

"We had a coach leave, we needed somebody on the bench," said Granato, who was 72-33-17-11 when he led the team from 2002 to 2004. "I sat down with (former GM) 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."

The more Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere searched around for a new coach this time, the more convinced he became that he already had his top choice.

"I looked at who all of the alternatives were going to be," Giguere said. "Tony just kept coming back. Tony is energetic, he's passionate, he's hardworking and a smart hockey person. He has experience as an NHL coach. He's been successful as an NHL coach."

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.

Granato was selected for the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1989 and played in the All-Star Game in 1997.

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.

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 at his farewell teleconference.

Giguere said at the time he wanted the next coach to have an up-tempo philosophy.

Granato shares a similar vision.

"We will design a system that allows these guys to show their talents and hopefully have career years," Granato said. "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."

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