Tony Granato spent 13 seasons as a player in the NHL and has been a coach in the league for an additional ten-plus seasons. He’s been playing and coaching in the league that hockey people aspire to get to. Yet given the opportunity to coach the Wisconsin Badger hockey team, he didn’t hesitate.
Granato had one condition when Barry Alvarez offered him the job. He wanted his brother Don Granato and another former Badger, Mark Osiecki to join him as associated head coaches.
Don Granato also had a good gig, coaching in the U.S. National Team Development Program. Osiecki is an Associate Head Coach with Rockford of the American Hockey League. Given the opportunity to join Tony Granato in Madison was a no-brainer.
Osiecki said, “The thing we talked about is: ‘How much fun is it going to be to pull up to the Kohl Center each day?’
“There is nothing better than that.”
Tony Granato, who is currently an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, will finish the NHL season before jumping on board full-time with the Badgers. Osiecki will also finish up with Rockford. Don Granato will hit the ground running to hit the recruiting trail and start promoting the University of Wisconsin and its hockey program.
Wisconsin has failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament in four of the last six seasons under Mike Eaves, who was fired at the end of the season. Wisconsin’s record in the last two seasons was 12-46-13. Yet Tony Granato took time to thank Eaves for his service. Eaves won NCAA Championships both as a player and a coach at Wisconsin.
Tony Granato said they’re going after the best recruits and they’re going to get them.
Osiecki was considered one of the top recruiters in college hockey during his time as an assistant coach in Madison from 2004-’10. He helped the Badgers win an NCAA title in 2006.
Athletic Director Barry Alvarez didn’t have to search long for a list of candidates to replace Eaves. He said his short list included both Granato’s, Osiecki and women’s coach Mark Johnson. But Johnson said he would get back to Alvarez and never did. Alvarez said things materialized quickly and the deal was done.