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Granato Adds Experience to Penguins Coaching Staff

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins coaching staff became a lot more experienced Wednesday with the addition of Tony Granato as assistant coach.

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Granato has 19 years of experience in the National Hockey League as a head coach, assistant coach and player. He was behind the bench for the Colorado Avalanche the past six seasons, including two stints as head coach, and played 13 NHL seasons.

“I’m just extremely excited to join an organization with such great history and get a chance to work with a staff that I’ve admired from afar with what they’ve done,” Granato said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Granato, 45, joins Bylsma and assistant coaches Mike Yeo and Gilles Meloche in rounding out Pittsburgh’s 2009-10 coaching staff.

“I certainly look forward to being alongside Mike, Gilles and Dan,” Granato said. “I admire what they were able to accomplish last year. They certainly have things in order and how they operate. I look forward to learning from them and being a part of their staff.”

“We are excited to have a guy who’s accomplished as much as Tony join our staff as an assistant coach,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. “In addition to his 13 years as an NHL player, he’s also been a head coach and assistant for six years with the Avalanche, and all of that experience will make him a tremendous asset to the Penguins organization.”

Granato brings to Pittsburgh a wealth of coaching experience at the NHL level. He was Colorado’s head coach from 2002-04 and 2008-09, leading the Avalanche to a 215-104-17-16 record and a Northwest Division title in 2003. He also served as an assistant coach with Colorado for three-plus seasons.

He was originally hired as an assistant with the Avalanche in June 2002 but was promoted to head coach that December. Under Granato’s leadership, the club went 32-11-4-4 and won its nine consecutive division title. The following season Granato steered the Avalanche to a 40-22-13-7 finish and an appearance in the conference semifinals.

Granato stepped back into his former role of assistant coach from 2005-08. Last season, he completed his second stint as head coach and oversaw the development of a young Colorado team.

Now, Granato will be working with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

To be able to jump to an organization like this that’s on the top, I feel very lucky. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to help in any way I can. I’ll do my part to help keep that going. - Tony Granato
“To be able to jump to an organization like this that’s on the top, I feel very lucky,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to help in any way I can. I’ll do my part to help keep that going.”

Granato joins a deeply talented team in Pittsburgh with players like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. Granato is no stranger to working with talented players. In Colorado, Granato worked with stars like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy.

“I’ve been able to deal with players like that in Colorado and I played with quite a few throughout my career,” Granato said. “I think it helps. That experience you gain with those guys. I feel good about what’s going to happen with the players in Pittsburgh.”

Granato played 13 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The feisty, two-way forward eclipsed the 30-goal and 60-point mark four times.

His best season came in 1992-93 when he scored 37 goals, 45 assists, 82 points and 171 penalty minutes. He added 17 postseason points on six goals and 11 assist to help the Kings earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

He suffered a possible career-ending brain injury in 1996 but returned the following season to score 25 goals and was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for exemplifying perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

“I’ve gone through a lot as a player and as a coach,” Granato said. “I love the game and being a part of it. I think all of us that play and coach want to win and want to be a part of something special.”

And Granato wants to make his experience with the Penguins something special.

“I’m just thankful and really looking forward to being a part of the staff, getting my family moved and being part of the community there,” he said. “With what Pittsburgh’s done for so many years, the tradition, the history, to be able to join an organization that like is extremely exciting for me.”
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