New Wisconsin men’s hockey coach Tony Granato, alongside Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, made his first appearance if front of the microphone in a press conference at the Kohl Center Wednesday morning.
The press conference focused mostly on the future expectations for the historic hockey program and introducing the Badger faithful to their new leader.
Granato explained what he looked for in a coaching position and said a place like Wisconsin is the perfect fit because it is just like home.
“To generally get a coaching position, you start in the minors, you work in a small city somewhere and you ride buses and you’re never home to take care of the kids and be part of their lives,” Granato said. “I wanted to find something where I could be a dad and be in a position where I could stay and have my responsibility to the family as my priority.”
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Granato and Alvarez were joined on stage by a new assistant in Granato’s younger brother, Don Granato, and new associate head coach Mark Osiecki, all of whom played college hockey at University of Wisconsin. Osiecki even served on the coaching staff at one point from 2004 to 2010.
The three sweeping moves by Alvarez were his first substantial hires for hockey as athletic director since he began back in 2006 and, for many, this marks a positive change for a team in a two-season pit.
Alvarez described the trio as a “dream team,” and the three could not not have been more excited to work together.
“It’s a perfect fit for Donny and I to go in and all of us work together,” Osiecki said. “I can’t believe how much fun we’re going to have walking into the Kohl Center.”
The announcement of the three coaches included their respective contracts; a five-year deal for Tony Granato and a three-year deal for both Don Granato and Osiecki.
After all three were considered for the head coaching job, worries were that Don Granato and Osiecki wouldn’t be willing to accept a lower position, but, for Don Granato, once he was approached, his decision was easy.
“We knew we’ve always wanted to coach together, so there was no conversation,” Don Granato said. “With an opportunity like this, once Barry expressed an interest in Tony being a lead candidate, it was like, ‘Go get the job.’ If you’re his guy, don’t worry about anything else. Let’s just do it.”
Osiecki expressed a similar feeling when he was presented with an opportunity to coach his alma matter.
“For me, there wasn’t any convincing,” Osiecki said. “Number one, it’s Wisconsin. Number two, the athletic department. At the top of the oA lot of questions were raised over the concern that Tony Granato has become too accustomed to the NHL after playing and coaching in the league for 32 years. As a two-time coach of the Colorado Avalanche and an assistant with both the Pittsburg Penguins and Detroit Redwings, the 51-year-old Tony Granato is now three decades removed from a constantly evolving college game.
Tony Granato made it a point to address these concerns head on.
“The dynamics that go along with college hockey have change,” Tony Granato said. “The one thing that hasn’t changed is the game. The game is played and you’re successful when you find kids, student-athletes, that are passionate, that understand the excitement part of playing college hockey. We want to get an enthusiastic, passionate group back.”
In hockey, three goals by a single player is considered a hat trick, and it just might be that with these hires, Alvarez recorded a hat trick of his own.
Now, Tony Granato and his staff could not be more excited to get started.
“When this came about that we could all be together, I was ecstatic,” he said. “It was a situation that I wanted to be part of.”