Just over a year ago Barry Alvarez managed to put together one of the all-time great coaching staffs in college hockey history. Tony Granato’s hire came along with two big names, his brother Don and former UW assistant and Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki.
The dream team didn’t last long though, as the program announced on Thursday afternoon that Don was off to take a job as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Head coach Ton Granato probably put the situation best in announcing the move.
“We came here with three head coaches and there’s only one head coach on each bench,” he said via press release.
“My intention is to be here a long, long, long time. Donny and Mark are in another position.”
As for the other part of the three-headed monster on the Badgers bench? Osiecki isn’t going anywhere either, admitting there were overtures from the NHL for him this offseason, but according to the release, “but I’m happy being a Badger.”
Don called the move “bittersweet,” but also issued some encouraging words about the state of the program that he is leaving behind.
“My plan was not to leave after one year and I wouldn’t have left after one year if I didn’t think we’re in the position we’re in,” Don Granato said.
Considering the program went from winning 12 of 70 games from 2014 to 16 to winning 20 games and finishing with a 20-15-1 overall record, it is safe to say things are heading in the right direction.
Losing the younger Granato hurts in a big way on the recruiting trail. His ties to the youth game have been well documented, and that was already paying off on the recruiting trail over this past year. But, a “dream situation” and a chance to play for an organization looking to get back to winning the Stanley Cup soon is nothing to sneeze at either.
But, for the elder Granato, this type of change is something he came in to the job knowing would be part of the gig. After all, recruiting the best players and getting results usually leads to tough decisions for young players in the college game today. That’s not to mention success also breeds attention on the coaching staff in general.
“There could potentially be other opportunities, whether it be it the NHL or a position in another league,” he said of his assistants. “We have to understand those guys are going to be attractive to other organizations.
“That’s a great compliment to them. It’s a great compliment to our program.”
No word was given on a direct replacement, but Granato did state he had a list of people in mind to replace his brother on the bench this upcoming season.