ANN ARBOR, USA – Don Granato, with 15 seasons of coaching experience at multiple levels, has been named head coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., it was announced today. Granato, as one of two head coaches at the NTDP, will guide the U.S. National Under-17 Team during the 2011-12 season.
“Don will be a terrific mentor to the best young players in our country," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "He's excited about the opportunity and we're very pleased to have him at the NTDP."
Granato's coaching career began in 1993 when he was named interim coach of the United States Hockey League's Madison Capitals. He went on to become the first-ever head coach and general manager of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers for three seasons (1994-97), where he led the Gamblers to Anderson Cup titles as the USHL regular-season champion on two occasions (1996, 1997) and, in 1996, helped the franchise capture its first Clark Cup as the league's playoff champion.
Granato's next challenge came in the East Coast Hockey League, where he led the Columbus Chill for two years (1997-99). He then moved on to serve as head coach of Peoria of the ECHL for one season and guided the Rivermen to the Kelly Cup as the ECHL's playoff champion. He was inducted into the Peoria Hall of Fame in 2009.
Granato spent 2000-05 as head coach of the Worcester IceCats, the American Hockey League affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. During that span, he became the winningest coach in franchise history with a 191-130-45-14 record, while leading the IceCats to the Calder Cup playoffs in four consecutive seasons (2000-04). Granato received the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award in 2001 as the AHL coach of the year.
"The fact that he's been a successful developmental coach both at the junior and professional level fits perfectly with our program," said Scott Monaghan, senior director of operations for the NTDP. "I know the players, parents and community will really enjoy Don."
Granato spent last season as a scout for the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks. Prior to the 2010-11 campaign, he served as head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-10), and was also an assistant coach for the NHL's St. Louis Blues (2005-06).
"I'm thrilled to be a part of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program," said Granato. "The NTDP is highly regarded in hockey circles not only in our country, but throughout the world. I look forward to the challenge of helping some of our most talented young players reach their full potential. In addition, my wife and I are excited to be part of the Ann Arbor community."
As a player, the Downers Grove, Ill., native skated for the University of Wisconsin from 1987-91. While a Badger, he helped Wisconsin to the 1990 NCAA title. Granato went on to compete professionally for two seasons with the ECHL's Columbus Chill (1991-93).
Granato replaces Ron Rolston, who spent seven seasons at the NTDP.
NOTES: Granato will begin his duties immediately ... He played high school hockey in Minnesota for Burnsville, where he helped his team win the Minnesota State High School League championship in 1985 ... Don Granato is the brother of Tony and Cammi Granato.