Reports: Wings assistant Granato to coach Wisconsin

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Tony Granato

Red Wings assistant coach Tony Granato will be the next head coach at the University of Wisconsin, according to multiple reports.

Granato, a former Badgers player, has been an assistant with the Wings the past two seasons.

General manager Ken Holland had no comment, other than saying Granato will remain with the Red Wings for the remainder of this season.

Granato has primarily handled the defense and penalty kill in his two seasons with the Red Wings. He re-signed with the Red Wings after Mike Babcock left for Toronto last spring, declining other NHL opportunities.

One possible in-house replacement would be Chris Chelios, who is currently coaching the defense in a part-time role.

Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Todd Nelson has NHL head coaching experience with Edmonton and could also be a candidate for Blashill’s staff.

Granato, 51, was head coach of the Colorado Avalanche for three seasons – 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2008-09. He also was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he never has been a college head coach.

Granato was an all-WCHA player for the Badgers. He played from 1983-87 and three times eclipsed 25 goals. He had 28 goals and 45 assists in 42 games as a senior in 1986-87.

Granato played 13 seasons in the NHL, with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

Wisconsin fired Mike Eaves earlier this month after 14 seasons and a 267-225-66 record. Eaves is the father of former Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves.

Niyo: Feeble efforts put Wings' playoff run in jeopardy

Resiliency needed

The Wings have had no answers for opponents who swing momentum in their favor in recent games.

The situation was particularly stark in the last two games, beginning with Thursday’s third period when Montreal scored three goals and almost rallied from a 4-0 deficit, then Saturday when Pittsburgh scored goals in bunches in a 7-2 victory.

“We let momentum totally get away from us,” said Blashill said. “We weren’t resilient enough. Once we got scored on, we have to be better than that.”

Team defense

The goaltending, Petr Mrazek or Jimmy Howard, has to be better, said Blashill, but the Red Wings have to help their goalies, as well.

“Our team hasn’t been good enough defensively,” said Blashill, noting defensive lapses against the Penguins. “I’ve always felt that goaltending follows team defense, so we’ll take responsibility for that.”

Ice chips

Pavel Datsyuk earned assist No. 600 for his career Saturday, joining Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio as the only Red Wings with 300 goals, 600 assists and 900 points.

… Possibly the lone bright spot Saturday was Andreas Athanasiou scoring his seventh goal in limited playing time this season.

“Just sticking to do what I do best,” Athanasiou said. “I know my strengths and my speed is a big asset to that. Whenever I get out there, I try and do the best I can to help the guys win.”

Sabres at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday night, Joe Louis Arena

TV / radio: FSD, NBCSN / 97.1 FM, 1270 AM

Outlook: The Red Wings are 3-1-0 against the Sabres this season, one of those victories in a shootout. … Buffalo is 5-3-2 in its last 10 games and C Jack Eichel (23 goals, 50 points) is a candidate for Rookie of the Year.