May 22, 2008 10:27 PM
I like Tony Granato. He's a good guy. I've known him since his days as a player with the Kings, the first NHL team I covered before moving to Colorado.
So, did the Avalanche make the right move by naming him head coach for the second time? Honestly, I don't know.
I do know this: it was a safe move by general manager Francois Giguere, who obviously has a comfort level with Granato, a must for a GM/coach relationship.
But I'm confused. Giguere keeps saying that Joel Quenneville was and is a good coach. He keeps saying that he was satisfied with the Avalanche's record this season. Asked by yours truly on Thursday if he was happy with the team's style of play, he answered in the affirmative.
That said, what were the so-called "philosophical differences" with Quenneville that Giguere said led to the divorce? Good coach, good season, no problem with the style of play.
Granato said Thursday that he doesn't foresee any drastic changes in how the Avalanche will play in 2008-09 -- other than he wants better special-teams play -- so how much difference will there be under him than Coach Q?
I even asked about the Avalanche's penchant for cycling -- controlling the puck behind the net and looking for short passes in front -- and Granato said that is an important part of puck-possession hockey. I don't disagree, but Quenneville has been criticized in some quarters for utilizing that strategy rather than using a more open skating style.
Already there is speculation that Granato is a short-term remedy, that Patrick Roy will eventually become Avalanche coach when he feels ready to take on an NHL job two or three years down the road.
I don't necessarily believe that to be the case, but who knows. The shelf life for an NHL coach is ridiculously short.
I'll say this: Granato, at least outwardly, will exhibit a lot more emotion behind the bench than Quenneville did. Anyone recall how he reacted after Steve Moore was attacked by Todd Bertuzzi? Or his emotional reaction towards Red Wings coach Mike Babcock this season after Babcock put Aaron Downey on the ice after Ian Laperriere's hit against Nicklas Lidstrom?
For better or worse, Granato can be fiery at times, while Quenneville pretty much managed to keep his emotions in check. An outward display of support for a player can pay dividends in the end.
Again, naming Granato as head coach was the safe route to take. Whether it proves to be the right decision will be known soon enough.
-- Rick Sadowski