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Tony Granato and staff fired after seven seasons at Wisconsin

A 2021 Big Ten title and a Hobey Baker Award win were the highlights of the seven seasons Wisconsin alumnus Tony Granato spent behind the Badgers bench.

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Tony Granato looks at a replay during a game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Gophers on February 10, 2023 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Larry Radloff / Special to The Rink Live

MADISON, Wis. — After seven seasons beind the bench for his alma mater, Wisconsin men's hockey coach Tony Granato was fired on Monday, March 6.

In an afternoon press release, the school announced that the Badgers' program will have new leadership starting with the 2023-24 season, and that Granato and his staff will not return.

"Coach Granato is a great Badger and no one is more passionate about Wisconsin hockey or the University of Wisconsin than he is," UW athletic director Chris McIntosh said, in a statement released by the school. "I have great appreciation for the heart and soul that he has poured into the program during his time as head coach."

Granato, who played for the Badgers in the 1980s prior to a lengthy NHL career, returned to Madison in 2016 after stints as the head coach of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Wisconsin went 105-129-16 overall and 65-87-12 in Big Ten play during Granato's seven seasons — finishing above .500 just twice. His high water mark came in 2021 when the Bagders won the Big Ten regular season crown and made the NCAA tournament, where they were upset by Bemidji State in the opening round.


He was named the conference's coach of the year in 2017 and 2021, and produced 2021 Hobey Baker Award winner Cole Caufield. Granato also coached the 2018 US Men's Olympic Team.

As a college player, Granato was one of the top scorers in Badgers hockey history and was elected to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020. His brother Don is currently the head coach of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

The 2022-23 Badgers finished last in the Big Ten with a 13-23-0 overall record and a 6-18-0 mark in the conference. The lost a pair of playoff games at Michigan last weekend.

Wisconsin will begin a national search for a replacement immediately.

"I believe our men's hockey program can consistently compete at a championship level," McIntosh said. "My intention is to find a coach that will lead the effort to get us there."

Hockey might be getting safer, thanks in part to better gear and smarter play, but also thanks to people like the Minnesota Gophers' trainer, who is a trusted member of the team in his 14th season.
Minnesota took a third period lead on a highlight reel goal, but could not hang on, and Michigan rallied to win the conference tournament for the second consecutive year.
Both rosters are filled with future NHLers and many are former teammates as Minnesota tries to hang its second banner of the season with a win in the Big Ten tournament title game versus Michigan.
Packed arena, band playing and two talented teams battling for a banner will underscore the special nature of college hockey on Saturday when Michigan visits Minnesota for the Big Ten tourney title.
College hockey was frustrating for the first few months the Minnesota Gophers star spent in maroon and gold, but getting used to the opponents' attention and learning to tame his fire are working.
After hanging a conference title banner already, the Minnesota Gophers grabbed three of the Big Ten's five major awards, for the seven-team league's top player, coach and defensive player of 2022-23.
It had been two weeks since they had played a game, but after a bit of a slow start, the Minnesota Gophers found their legs and found their way back to the conference tourney title game.
The Spartans were 0-4 vs. Minnesota in the regular season, but coming off the high of their first playoff series win, they are optimistic that a 60-minute effort in the playoffs could work.
Brock Faber and Bob Motzko both have a chance to repeat as Big Ten award winners in 2023, after at least one Gopher was named a finalist for all five of the conference's year-end awards.
Originally from suburban Chicago, Tony Granato played for the Badgers at a time when sellouts were automatic and they were the hottest commodity in Wisconsin. On Monday, he was fired as head coach.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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