Wisconsin men’s hockey new coaching staff primed to bring back program prominence

Today the UW-Madison Athletic Department officially announced the new men’s hockey team coaches, consisting of all former Badgers, in a press conference held Wednesday afternoon at the Kohl Center. New head coach Tony Granato and his associate head coaches Don Granato and Mark Osiecki are excited to return to a team that still means so much to them.

“A lot of you have said you’re happy to have me back and I want to say that I’m happier to be back,” Tony Granato said. “Badger hockey has never left my heart…I wanted to come home.”

Athletic director Barry Alvarez couldn’t be more thrilled with the coaching staff. He had hoped to get even just one of the coaches on board, but he was fortunate enough to have all three of them agree to return to Madison to reestablish the kind of hockey the Badgers were known for.

When it came down to accepting the position as head coach, Tony Granato said it came down to whether or not he could have Granato and Osiecki by his side. Tony Granato believes his associate coaches are head coach material, referring to them as head coaches occasionally throughout the press conference.

While his focus will be directed towards helping coach the Detroit Red Wings for the remainder of their season, T. Granato has big plans for the Badgers’ upcoming season. It seems as though the emphasis will be on recruitment and raising expectations of both the players as individuals and as the team as a whole. The team has “some good pieces in place” with the returning players, but he’s determined to go after the best recruits that there are.

Referring to the Bob Johnson and Jeff Sauer years, T. Granato wants to have a team that does not just win, but has a product on the ice where they are able to win with passion and are able to have the students and community behind them.

“From this day forward we’ll do everything we can to put the product you want to see on the ice,” the new Badgers head coach said.

When it comes to how the team will react to these coaching changes, center Luke Kunin and goalkeeper Matt Jurusik have no worries.

Jurusik is excited that the Granatos and Osiecki will be able to teach the team how to become professionals, and believe that they are the next step in getting the players ready to enter the NHL.

“There’s nothing but up for this program,” Jurusik said. “And these three guys are going to help us foster a culture of winning.”

For Kunin, these changes were able to reconnect him with one of his former coaches from the U.S. National team. Kunin played under Don Granato for two years and already knows his coaching style and his dedication to the sport and his players.

“[I hope the coaches] bring their time and commitment to getting us better and turning things around quick,” Kunin said. “We really think that’s gonna happen.”

What does this all mean for the future of the Wisconsin men’s hockey program? Only time will tell, but as of now it seems as though the future is bright for a struggling team, and the Granato brothers and Osiecki are going to have a crucial role in bringing the old-time hockey back and into the Kohl Center.

Do you believe in miracles?

Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department.

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