The U.S. men’s national ice hockey team kicks off the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 14 against Slovakia and will compete for the next week and a half in hopes of earning its first medal since 2010.
But doing so will likely be much more difficult than in past Olympics. For the first time since 1994, NHL players are not competing.
That means a wildly different roster for the U.S. than in years past, one that includes four collegiate players.
Their coach, Tony Granato, is also currently coaching at the college ranks. Here are five things to know about Granato.
1. Tony Granato is in his second year as the Wisconsin hockey coach
In 2016, Granato left his assistant coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings to coach Wisconsin, where he was a two-time All-American hockey player in the late 1980s.
After winning 12 of 70 games their previous two seasons, the Badgers finished 20-15-1 their first year under Granato. He led them to second-place Big Ten finish and a spot in the conference championship game en route to being named 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Also in his first year coaching, Granato completed his bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies.
2. Tony Granato competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics
Shortly after leaving Wisconsin, Granato, then 23 years old, was selected to the US men’s national hockey team for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. In seven games, he totaled a goal and seven assists.
Thirty years later, he’s in Pyeongchang as the program’s coach.
3. Tony Granato enjoyed a long NHL career
The New York Rangers drafted Granato out of high school in the sixth round (No. 120 overall) of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. And six years later, after an illustrious career at Wisconsin, he made an immediate impact with the Rangers. He set a franchise record with 36 goals in his rookie season.
Granato went on to enjoy a 14-year NHL career with the Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He played in 774 games, scoring 248 goals and tallying 244 assists. In the postseason, Granato totaled 43 points (16 goals and 27 assists). Much of that production came during the 1992-93 campaign, when he had six goals and 11 assists as the Kings made a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
After the 2001 season, Granato announced his retirement.
4. A serious head injury almost ended Tony Granato’s career
In his last season with the Kings, Granato suffered a serious head injury against the Hartford Whalers that resulted in bleeding on the left lobe of his brain. He needed surgery, and many thought he wouldn’t return to the ice.
However, that next season, Granato was out there with his new team, the San Jose Sharks. He played five more NHL seasons after the injury.
5. Tony Granato is siblings with a Hockey Hall of Famer
While Granato competed for the men’s national hockey in the 1988 Winter Olympics, his younger sister, Cammi Granato, was the captain for the women’s squad that won gold.
In fact, Granato represented the U.S. in every word championship from the inaugural event in 1990 to 2005. She earned USA Women’s Player of the Year in 1996.
Shortly after her playing career, Granato was inducted to the International Hockey Hall of Fame, the US Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame (2010).
The post Who is Tony Granato? 5 things to know about the US men’s Olympic hockey coach appeared first on Land of 10.
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