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Granato Introduced as Head Coach

Transcript from Thursday's Press Conference

Thursday, 05.22.2008 / 5:45 PM / News
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Granato Introduced as Head Coach
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The following is a transcript from Thursday’s press conference to introduce Tony Granato as the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche

Jean Martineau: “Ladies and gentlemen, members of the media, Avalanche fans. Welcome to this press conference.  To introduce our new head coach is Executive Vice President and General Manager Francois Giguere. Go ahead Francois.”

Francois Giguere: “Welcome everyone. I’m here today to announce the appointment of Tony Granato as the Avalanche head coach. Tony has gained tremendous coaching experience over the last five seasons behind the Avalanche bench. He has a great work ethic and knowledge of our organizational depth chart. He’s shown that he really cares about the success of our players. He’s also somebody who really enjoys working with our young and talented young players. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to meet many head coaches… and it started in 1990 with the Quebec Nordiques. Working closely with Tony over the past two years, he’s clearly shown to me that he has the necessary qualities required to be a very successful head coach for this franchise. He was my first choice and I am pleased to announce Tony as the new Avalanche head coach.”

Tony Granato: “Hello everybody, thank you all for coming. I have a special guest in the background that I have to acknowledge—actually a lot of special guests in the background. My son, Michael, graduated high school from Cherry Creek this morning. I apologize, Mike, for having to run out of the ceremony so quickly to get down here. Congratulations buddy, great job. Also in the back is the rest of my family. My other children Dominic, Nicholas and Gabriella, my wife Linda, my dad, my mother and father-in-law were in for the graduation. They get a bonus, they get to come to a press conference. Thank you guys for coming. It’s with tremendous honor, great excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation that I get to sit in front of you guys today as the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. Our goal as a team will remain the same. We will provide the fans with an exciting, up-tempo brand of hockey that they have been accustomed to seeing. As far as the standards that have been set since the team arrived here in Colorado 13 years ago, our goal will remain the same as well: to put a product on the ice that is exciting and capable of winning a Stanley Cup every single year. I am very confident in the direction and the way the team is heading. I love the players, I love the youth, the veterans, the core guys that we have here. It’s a great opportunity for someone to come in and take over the head coach (position). It’s everything you’d ever want to have in a team to come in and take over as head coach. I’m also very confident in supplying the leadership and energy and enthusiasm it takes to be successful and make sure that these guys continue to go in the right direction. We are very fortunate to be in a tremendous hockey market here, a wonderful community that I’m proud to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the many challenges that lie in front of us and also a lot of excitement as well.”

How different do you feel now as opposed to the first time around as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche? How much better of a coach do you think you are now?

Granato: “It’s been 20 years now since I’ve been involved in the NHL. The experiences you gain, the lessons you learn along the way are always helpful. I’m very confident in the ability that I have to lead this team in the right direction. The players that I’m fortunate enough to have in our lineup and in our dressing room, are a pleasure to be the head coach and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Do you think you are a better coach than when you first got the job?

Granato: “I think in the hockey world you try to get better everyday. It’s the same thing that I expect from our team next year. When we start the season, I expect us to be better the next day. I think everyone in their profession wants to be better the next day or the next time around. That’s the way I feel. I’m confident and excited about this opportunity.”

Francois, why now? Why not wait until after the Stanley Cup Finals to interview potential head coaching candidates?

Giguere: “When I started this process, I looked at what all the alternatives were going to be. The more I got into the process, and doing all the research I was doing, the more Tony kept coming back. To me, Tony is energetic, passionate, caring about all of our players, hard working, a smart hockey person. I was very impressed with the two years that we worked together. He has experience as a head coach, he’s been successful as an NHL head coach. I just thought he was the best candidate. Everyday when you go through the process, I got to the point where I was convinced that this was the guy for this team and the future of this team. And he was going to continue us on the right track.”

Have you had contact with Peter (Forsberg) or Joe (Sakic)?

Granato: “Obviously since being named the head coach there are a lot of thoughts that go through your mind about who you’ll have to start the season in September. But myself, Francois and the rest of the coaching staff and management team will get together the next few weeks to discuss all the possibilities of how we can put the best product on the ice just like we always do. I did talk to Joe this morning, briefly. He called and said ‘congratulations,’ so I talked to him for a brief second. I was very excited to get the call.”

Giguere: “I think when it comes to Joe. One thing I was made clear when the season was over was that he needed time to make this decision. And I think from our perspective, was that we need to give him the time to make that decision. I think that if we push him, nothing good will come out of it. We need to let him go through this process. Joe and I have had this discussion. He knows that as soon as he can, we’d like to have an answer. When he’s ready he’ll come to me and talk to us. We hope he’ll come back and plays but that’s his decision he’ll make in the upcoming weeks.”

There’s been some criticism of the power play and how it performed. Where you in charge of the power play?

Granato: “As a staff we all were responsible for it, so I can accept some responsibility for it. Certainly it’s an area of the team that we thought would perform a lot better. It’s certainly an area of emphasis on this summer to make sure we start in the right direction next year. Specialty teams are always a big factor on how your team will perform and the result you get. So that’s something we’ll make sure we’ve got right from the start of the season and look to make dramatic improvements in.”

Have you talked to Joel (Quenneville), a guy who replaced you a few years ago and now the shoes on the other foot?

Granato: “I did not (talk to him) today. I have in the past couple weeks. We played tennis together, played golf together. He’s become a great friend. I’ve enjoyed my three years coaching with him. He’s a mentor. And I enjoyed our time together. We talked briefly about the potential of me being the head coach here. He wished me well and hoped I got the position and I said (good luck) as well. I hope we’re going head-to-head someday real soon and I’m sure that will be the case.”

Francois, you talked about how there was a difference of philosophies with Joel. Can you talk about how you and Tony agreed in philosophy?

Giguere: “First of all I think when the question was asked a few weeks ago, I said that there was a difference in philosophies and I don’t think I was more specific than a difference in philosophies. I think this organization since it’s been in Denver has played a very similar style of hockey. We like to be seen as more of an offensive, fast, puck possession team. That’s what we’ve been since we’ve been here. We’re looking forward to be doing that as we move forward. I think every coach that has been here has been on board with that style of play. When Tony and I had many discussions we brought that up. But it’s not something we spent a lot of time on because that’s just part of who the Avalanche are.”

Tony, how are you going to approach this differently, now? Secondly, what is your philosophy? Finally, people might say they fired you the first time, why won’t they fire him a second time?

Granato: “A change in position was the right thing. If you remember back a few years ago, our assistant coach Rick Tocchet left for another organization. We had an opportunity where we needed somebody behind the bench. I sat down with Pierre Lacroix and we thought the best thing for the organization at that time was to find the best coach available, regardless of the position. It was my decision to go along with Pierre that we need to bring in Joel Quenneville. The words ‘fired’ are pretty strong. A change in positions. Being behind the bench for six years, I know this team very well. I know what it takes to motivate the players here. I love the way this team is being built and I’m excited for this opportunity. As far as philosophies go, I’m going to be myself, the same guy I always was. I’m going to allow the players to be the best players that they can be. I’m going to provide the environment that allows them to do this. As far as system goes and all that, we’ll present a system that allows these guys to show their talents and hopefully have career years.”

Francois, how much did you consult Pierre Lacroix on this decision?

Giguere: “The advantage I have is that when I came in, I didn’t know Tony. I based my decision on the two years of experience that I’ve had with him. I’ve been extremely impressed with him as a hockey person. He’s energetic, passionate, he’s always positive, he’s hard working, he’s loyal. He has all these qualities that make him special and he’s had experience as a head coach and he’s been successful as a head coach. So when you look at the inventory of who are the potential candidates, I don’t think he needs to be hurt because of what has happened in the past. There’s no doubt in my mind when it comes to young coaches that are up-and-coming, Tony was at the top of the list. When it comes to Pierre, I’m not going to hide away from the decisions that Pierre did. Pierre brought Tony along in 2002, I can understand why he brought him along because he’s an exceptional man and an exceptional hockey person. But I’m not going to shy away from things that Pierre did if they’re not for the best for this organization. My decisions need to be for what’s best for this franchise. And I’m convinced today that Tony is the best coach for this franchise moving forward.”

Tony, when you look at the numbers you were very successful as a head coach for this franchise. Do you think you did a good job?

Granato: “I think I was proud with the way I handled it. I had the thrill of coaching some tremendous players. We had some tremendous runs, some tremendous success at different parts of the years. I enjoyed every second of it. I would have loved to remain as the head coach at that point but when Rick Tocchet left there was a decision to be made on what can we do to make the organization better? It was great to stay on the bench, great to sit back and learn from Joel and watch, learn more about our players, our team, how the league is playing. And again, as a coach, in any profession you’re in, you try to get better each day and learn more each day on how you can better yourself. And that’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Have you thought about who your new assistant coach will be?

Granato: “We really haven’t. That’s something that Francois and I will discuss in the next little while. I’m sure there are some great candidates out there that will come to the forefront real quickly. We have coaches on staff right now, Jacques Cloutier and Jeff Hackett, who is our goaltending coach. Those are guys who have been around a while now who I am very fortunate to have on the staff. We’ll move forward in the next little while and finalize the staff.”

Francois, was this team not the team that you wanted it to be last year?

Giguere: “The unfortunate thing that came out on making a change of a coach, is that it’s been associated with disappointment in the performance of the team. Again, and I’ll reiterate, as far as I’m concerned, we had a great season. I was happy with the work being done by the coaching staff. When we sat down and had discussions and decided to go our separate ways, again, I’m happy with the way the team played and am excited about the future that lies ahead for us. We have a lot of decisions to make because we have a lot of guys who are free agents. It’s going to be a very, very busy offseason. We haven’t had a chance to do our year-end review which we are going to do in the up-coming weeks. We have the entry draft in less than a month, we have 16 or 17 of our players who’s contracts will expire at the end of the month of June. It’s going to be a very busy offseason but it’s going to be a very exciting offseason. I think our fans should be encouraged with the season we had and look forward to the next season. I expect us to have a very successful season coming up.”

Where you happy with the style of play?

Giguere: “I haven’t looked at the stats but if you go back and look at the stats I think we were one of the more offensive minded teams in the league. If our power play had even been in the middle of the road I think we would have been in the top five offensive teams. There’s things we need to improve and I think every year there’s things you want to improve. But the general rule is that I was happy with our style of play.”

Tony, talk about the roller coaster it’s been for you personally over the last few weeks?

Granato: “It’s been a busy couple of weeks that’s for sure. And my sister was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame, so I was up in Quebec for a few days. It’s been busy. Francois and I have had numerous discussions over the last 10 days or so since Joel has decided to leave, or decided to move on. (Francois) showed a lot of confidence in me early, saying he wanted me to be part of the organization. We went through the interview process. And then last night was a real exciting time when I was offered the position and accepted. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. But I think that if you look at our game and you’re in this profession, you can have a lot of weeks like this.”

Talk about your team and if you thought about the free agents and so forth before you took this job?


Granato: “I certainly like our personnel. I like the team we had on the ice at the end of last season. Obviously we had a ton of injuries at the end. That’s something I don’t think a lot of people gave us credit for—the depth of our organization. So, yes, we would like to retain a lot of the players who have free agency ability in the next little while.  As far as the risk goes, no, this is an organization that has a lot of pride, and like I said earlier puts the best product on the ice possible. We will continue to do so. It will be exciting in the next few months to see how we can improve our team over the summer so we’re ready for training camp.”

Francois, how many interviews did you conduct?

Giguere: “I don’t want to go into the details on who I talked with and the due dillegence. There was a process that was made and I don’t think it’s fair to go into the details on how many people I talked to and who I talked to.”

After you made your position change a few years ago, has there been opportunities to be a head coach somewhere else?


Granato: “As far as having another opportunity to go to another organization I will say yes. Over the last past few years I did get a call and asked if I would be available. It was during the middle of the season and at a time when I didn’t think it was appropriate to leave our organization, nor was it the right situation for my family and myself. This was an organization that I admired before I came into it and the day I got here I knew why I admired it. It’s surrounded with tremendous hockey people. It has tremendous fans and everything you’d want to be a part of an organization. I wanted to stay here as long as I could. I didn’t expect this position to become available as head coach this fast, but when it did Francois asked me if I had interest in becoming the head coach and I was excited. I jumped at the opportunity and went through the interview process and am glad that it worked out.”

How common is it to find people who put the organization first before themselves?

Giguere: “There’s no doubt, as a human being, he’s an exceptional human being. I think the people who have been in the community, and all the work he does with charity. But he’s also an exceptional hockey person. When you work closely with people over two years like we did, one of the things is you get to know people very well. I feel very confident that Tony will have a lot of success and the team will have  a lot of success with him as the head coach.”
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