Tony Granato has a .605 career winning percentage as an NHL head coach (72-44-17). (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Everybody deserves a second chance.
That being said, the Colorado Avalanche is taking a bit of a risk by promoting Tony Granato from assistant coach to head coach. It’s not that he isn’t qualified to replace Joel Quenneville; it’s just that history is riddled with examples of good hockey men struggling as head coaches with teams they served as assistants. In recent memory, the likes of Dave Lewis (Detroit), John Paddock (Ottawa), Mike Kitchen (St. Louis) and Jim Playfair (Calgary) spring to mind.
Granato was promoted to head coach of the Avalanche in 2002-03 after Bob Hartley was fired, but was reassigned to his old post in 2004-05 when Quenneville returned to the team after coaching eight years in St. Louis. Granato actually had a very good record as head coach, going 72-44-17.
The problem is players seem to have difficulties relating to a guy who often played the role of good cop as an assistant when he is forced to play bad cop as the head guy. To go from being a shoulder to cry on to being the reason why a player can’t sleep at night is a tough one.
That is the biggest hurdle assistant coaches face when they move up the ladder. It is not the case when an assistant changes organizations and becomes the head coach.
One thing that may work in Granato’s favor is that the team is expected to undergo a major facelift in the off-season. There is the potential for considerable turnover and if that is the case, he won’t be dealing with as many familiar faces and will stand a very good chance at being successful.