Friday, May 23, 2008

Coach Q in San Jose

I might have a bit more to say about the Granato hiring today but in the meantime, it looks like our venerable Coach Quenneville is in San Jose at the moment. Sure, he could be just soaking up the rays but the odds are that he's interviewing for the vacant head coach position. Judging by the comments, it appears the fans are not willing to welcome him with open arms just yet.

Thanks to Puck Daddy for catching the story.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tony Granato Named as Colorado Avalanche Head Coach

Skeletor mad
Today the Colorado Avalanche named Tony Granato as their new old head coach. On the heels of Joel Quenneville's departure, fans began questing candidates far and wide for the newly vacant position. But Francois Giguere didn't venture far for the answer.

The Answer is Within
Given the timing of this promotion and the past history with Granato, it seems unlikely that Giguere pursued anybody outside of the organization for the head coach position. Heck, I wonder if it was even Giguere doing the hiring. That's just conjecture on my part of course but if true, it's a shame. There were a few capable coaches available which could have brought in a new philosophy and mindset to this club. As it stands now, I currently feel a "more of the same" feeling for next season.

History Repeating Itself
I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of Granato's last full season stint as head coach of the Avalanche. A dream team involving Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Teemu Selanna, Paul Kariya, Rob Blake, Adam Foote and on and on it goes. With a team like that, fans had high hopes of a birth in the Stanley Cup finals. In fact, expectations were so high that the season was captured on film. The film ended with Granato walking out of the locker room telling the team he would leave them to their thoughts. Not the strongest of concession speeches I've seen.

Will this coming season be more of the same? Well, Granato doesn't have a head case goaltender to deal - oh wait. Well, he doesn't have any players who need to be pushed to reach their full potential - oh wait. But he doesn't have any veterans to gain the respect of - oh wait.

Ok, that was a bit fecetious, especially since a couple players there are no re-signed yet and nobody is firing up their video gear expecting this team to win the Cup next season. However that's what any season is about. Winning the Cup. Tony Granato had a shot once with a superb squad. He failed.

Powerplay Suckitude
We all bemoaned Coach Q for his tactics including sitting on leads, myriad line changes and woeful special teams. And as much as Quenneville is to blame for those, Granato holds an equal share in one of them - the powerplay.

Granato was in charge of the Avalanche powerplay and it utterly and spectacularly failed this season. The Avalanche powerplay went 14.6% on the season, good enought to tie them for 2nd worst in the NHL with the New York Islanders, just half a percentage point ahead of the St. Louis Blues. That should be completely unacceptable for a team with the likes of Sakic, Smyth, Hejduk, Stastny, Svatos, Wolski and Liles to draw on.

Passion of the Tony
Granato has at least shown passion on the bench during his time with the Avalanche. Most notable was during a 4-0 beatdown at the hands of the Red Wings. After some rough play involving Aaron Downey and Ian Laperriere, Granato engaged Mike Babcock in a heated shouting match. While our former head coach stood with hands in pockets, Granato proceeded to redline himself to the point that I feared his head may explode. I was unhappy with it in the context of the game but at least it shows the man truly cares.

Experience Counts
Granato has been accepting of his shortcomings as evidenced by a demotion to the assistant coaching position. A move that many would take as emasculating was taken in stride by Granato as he realized he needed more time to learn the game from behind the bench. I would think he's spent enough time there to learn a new trick or two. Though I worry that some of those tricks came at the hands of the wrong teacher.

Stats Don't Lie
Straight from the G&M article:
With Granato as head coach, the Avalanche compiled a record of 72-33-17-11, giving him the top coaching mark in franchise history based on points percentage (.647). Granato owns a .605 career winning percentage as an NHL head coach (72-44-17), the second highest in franchise history. Among active NHL coaches, Granato ranks fifth in career winning percentage behind Bruce Boudreau (.664), Dave Tippett (.632), Randy Carlyle (.630) and Mike Babcock (.621).
When you look strictly at the numbers, you'd wonder why Granato hasn't been the head coach of the Avalanche for last 3 seasons. And we all know stats don't lie, right?

Right or wrong?
In a poll I ran earlier, Tony Granato garnered 28% of the vote, coming just shy of Todd McLellan for who Avalanche fans wanted as the coach. I amended the post shortly after hoping somebody would explain why they wanted Granato in. Well, now's your time again. Is this the right move for the Avalanche or have they basically stood pat on the coaching front? I may have made my choice clear by the picture up top but don't let that sway you.

Related Links
News: Granato named head coach
Granato gets a second chance as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche
Granato named head coach of the Avalanche
Tony Granato returning as Avalanche head coach
Tony Granato announced as new Colorado Avalanche head coach
The other shoe to coach the Avs
Darn darnity darn darn darn ;)
Coach Granato: The Other View

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Avalanche to Poach Coach from Red Wings?

Could the Avalanche be trying to poach from the enemy? Terry Frei thinks it's a possibility and that Todd McLellan, the Red Wings assistant coach, could be a solid fit for the vacant head coaching position for the Avalanche.

McLellan was snagged by Frei after the Wings morning skate Monday and asked if he would be interested in the Avalanche head coaching position. The response? "I would be very interested."

And the match made in heaven didn't stop there as he followed up with these romantic words: "So I'd like to coach a high-tempo, fast, puck-possession type team."

Now I'm very interested. McLellan is in charge of the Wings forwards including their powerplay so how could you not be intrigued?

Read the whole piece from Frei as it really delved deep into McLellan's past including a stint in the WHL where he set foot on the ice against our very own Joe Sakic.

EDIT: I'd love to hear from the folks who feel Tony Granato would be the best option. I'm not a big fan of Granato stepping into the head coach role - heck, he's struggled at times as an assistant - but I'm open to hearing why I might be wrong.

Related Links
Wings assistant coach could be the Avalanche's next coach
The men behind Mike Babcock