Tony Granato was fresh off an iconic career with the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team when he got his first taste of the Olympics.
He had just become the second player in UW history to total 100 goals and 100 assists in his career when he played for Team USA in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
Now, 26 years later, Granato will get another opportunity to embrace the biggest of all international stages.
It was announced Tuesday that Granato will be an assistant for the American entry, one coached by Dan Bylsma. Granato has been an NHL assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins under Bylsma for the past four years.
USA Hockey also named Peter Laviolette, the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Todd Richards, the coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, to assist Bylsma.
Their first major order of business will be to assess the 48 NHL players invited to an orientation camp next month. Six of the participants played for the Badgers: defenseman Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs), defenseman Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), center/wing Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks), center Craig Smith (Nashville Predators), center Derek Stepan (New York Rangers) and defenseman Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild).
Granato, who turns 49 on Thursday, is the third person from UW to have a coaching role in the Olympics on the men’s side. The late Bob Johnson coached Team USA in the 1976 Games and his top assistant with the Badgers, Grant Standbrook, joined him in Innsbruck, Austria.
The 2014 Winter Games will be staged Feb. 7 to 23 in Sochi, Russia.