The Detroit Red Wings’ biggest offseason signing may be an assistant coach instead of a player.
According to the Detroit Red Wings official Twitter account, Tony Granato was officially hired as an assistant coach Tuesday after the team lost Bill Peters to the Carolina Hurricanes and Tom Renney agreed to be the team president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada.
UPDATE: The #RedWings have hired Tony Granato as an assistant coach
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 15, 2014
The deal is for one year with an option, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.
Tony Granato deal with #RedWings is for one year, with an option.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) July 15, 2014
In 215 games coaching the Colorado Avalanche from 2002-04 and 2008-09, Granato had a 104-78-17-16 record and led the Avalanche to two playoff berths.
Granato, 49, played 13 NHL seasons with the Rangers, Kings and Sharks. He had 773 career games, 248 goals, 244 assists and 1,425 penalty minutes.
Granato was most recently an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past five years until he was released along with general manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma.
According to MLive.com’s Brendan Savage, Granato was initially hired to oversee the Red Wings defense and penalty kill. However, with the recent departure of Renney, that may change.
The Red Wings definitely need help on special teams. They had a 12th-ranked penalty kill at 83.1 percent and an 18th-ranked power play at 17.7 percent.
According to the Penguins’ official website, Granato oversaw the NHL’s No. 1-ranked penalty killing unit (86.1 percent) in 2010-11. During the 2013 playoffs, the unit was killing penalties at a 92.3-percent success rate, which is a franchise best.
Clearly, Granato knows what he is doing when it comes to running a successful penalty kill. We already know guys like Darren Helm and Drew Miller are quality penalty killers, but a younger guy like Luke Glendening could use some extra coaching on the man disadvantage.
Granato is also famous for an altercation with coach Mike Babcock back in 2008. Granato, then head coach with the Avalanche, got into an argument with Babcock after Detroit’s Aaron Downey fought for the second time with Colorado’s Ian Laperriere, who had taken a shot at Nicklas Lidstrom in the first period. Downey went to Lidstrom’s defense after the hit, and Babcock sent out Downey in the third period, which led to the argument with Granato.
Here’s the video:
Normally, this kind of altercation would be cause for concern (just look how well Jim Schwartz worked out for the Detroit Lions), but I’m not too worried about it because Granato will be working as an assistant coach rather than a head coach.
The last thing the Red Wings need is a John Tortorella-type coach behind the bench, but I don’t think Granato is going to fly off the handle every chance he gets.
Granato is a former player who knows what the current players are going through. Babcock admitted the hiring of Granato will make him a better coach.
I like the hire, and whether he runs the penalty kill or the power play, it’s a solid improvement for the Red Wings.