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3 reasons why the Seattle Kraken might make Wisconsin's Tony Granato their inaugural coach
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UW MEN'S HOCKEY

3 reasons why the Seattle Kraken might make Wisconsin's Tony Granato their inaugural coach

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Tony Granato photo 6-22

UW's Tony Granato is 82-82-13 in five seasons as coach.

Tony Granato is reportedly in the mix for a move back to the NHL.

The University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach is among those believed to have interviewed for the head coach position with the expansion Seattle Kraken, Elliotte Friedman of Canadian broadcaster Sportsnet reported Saturday night.

General manager Ron Francis also is thought to be considering former Tampa Bay and Arizona coach Rick Tocchet and Boston assistant Joe Sacco, per the report. The Kraken begin play next season and have an expansion draft July 21 to select players from other teams' rosters.

Granato came to the Badgers in 2016 after 14 seasons in NHL coaching. He spent parts of three seasons as coach in Colorado; the rest of the time was as an assistant with the Avalanche, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Here's three reasons why the Kraken might consider Granato to be their first coach.

He's at a high point in his UW tenure

Granato started his college coaching career by being named Big Ten coach of the year in 2016-17 when he directed the Badgers to a second-place finish. UW was sixth, fifth and seventh in the seven-team league in the next three seasons.

UW returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years in 2021 behind a Big Ten regular-season championship team and the dynamic season of Hobey Baker Award winner Cole Caufield. Granato again was named the Big Ten's top coach.

Granato's profile as a college coach is at its peak five years into his tenure even though the Badgers were an upset one-and-done in the NCAAs. Colleges increasingly are being eyed as sources for new NHL coaches. UMass' Greg Carvel, Providence's Nate Leaman and Minnesota Duluth's Scott Sandelin have been among the names floated for pro openings after winning the NCAA championship.

Granato hasn't taken the Badgers to that level — he's 82-82-13 in five seasons with only one NCAA Tournament appearance — but he has what those others don't: NHL head coaching experience. The attention UW received last season probably helped push his name back up some coaching lists.

A look at former University of Wisconsin men's hockey players who have appeared in an NHL game during the 2020-21 season through April 28.

There's a Cole Caufield effect

Caufield's impact on the Montreal Canadiens since he signed with the team after UW's season ended has been noticeable. It's more than scoring goals and setting them up; there's an extra boost of energy with the right wing in the lineup.

His elite-level offensive traits emerged before the Stevens Point native debuted with the Badgers in 2019, but the development of Caufield as more of a full-ice player has been partially attributed to his time under Granato at UW. Caufield isn't yet used in key defensive situations for Montreal and he still has work to do in coverages, but he took a major leap between his freshman and sophomore years.

Granato's brother Don, who finished last season as interim coach with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, has been known for his work with young players; it seems to run in the family. If the Kraken plan to go with a young roster, a coach who knows how to relate to them could be a good fit.

There's already a Granato on staff in Seattle

Seattle made history in September 2019 when it hired former U.S. Olympic captain Cammi Granato, Tony Granato's younger sister, as the first female pro scout for an NHL team.

Pro scouts generally don't have much input into coaching decisions, so it seems unlikely that Cammi Granato has a voice in the process. But if you're going with one Granato, maybe there's room for two.

Look back on State Journal coverage of Badgers men's hockey games in the 2020-21 season

Read stories from University of Wisconsin men's hockey games in the 2020-21 season.

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Bemidji State was the aggressor from the beginning and kept UW from playing the brand of hockey it has used to generate scoring chances.

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The Badgers paid for a lackluster effort in the second period as the Gophers beat UW for the first time in six championship-round games.

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Cole Caufield scored his 27th goal of the season 6 minutes, 50 seconds into the extra session to send the fifth-ranked Badgers past the Nittany Lions 4-3 on Monday in the Big Ten semifinals.

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Cole Caufield scores twice to give the Badgers a 2-1 victory at Michigan State and the Big Ten title on the final day of the regular season.

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Robbie Beydoun, playing in his home state, makes 28 saves as the Badgers keep the heat on Minnesota in the chase for the Big Ten title.

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If a 7-0 victory against Ohio State at LaBahn Arena was Cole Caufield's last time playing at home for the Badgers, it was the kind of effort UW fans will want to remember him by.

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Holloway scored twice on the power play to lead the Badgers past the Buckeyes.

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Ty Pelton-Byce scored twice for the Badgers, including the tying goal with 26.8 seconds left after UW let two third-period leads slip away.

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Coach Tony Granato went down the lineup in handing out individual laurels for good chances created, hits dished out or composed plays in the defensive zone.

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The Badgers erase the sour taste of their largest loss of the season with their first victory at Michigan in their past eight tries.

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A four-goal second period by the Wolverines was the difference after the Badgers took the lead.

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No. 11 UW is alone atop the conference standings after completing its first series sweep at Minnesota in 12 years with an emphatic 8-1 victory against the second-ranked Golden Gophers.

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Cole Caufield broke a tie with seven minutes remaining and Dylan Holloway figured in two goals in the following 2:18 as Wisconsin beat Minnesota 4-1.

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Cole Caufield scores two goals for the second straight game and Linus Weissbach records his first three-point game of the season.

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Robbie Beydoun stopped 19 shots for his second shutout of the season.

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After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Badgers couldn't pull all the way back with a late push.

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The Badgers scored two power-play goals to win at Penn State for the first time in five tries.

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A third-period penalty kill was "probably the biggest five minutes of our season so far," Badgers coach Tony Granato said.

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UW freshman Cameron Rowe makes 11 saves for his first shutout.

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The Badgers outshot the Gophers but paid the price for turnovers, a slow line change and a bad penalty.

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Beydoun made 35 saves as the Badgers knocked off the Gophers in their first game since Dec. 4.

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Cameron Rowe made 40 saves in his first collegiate start as the Badgers split a series at the Buckeyes.

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The Badgers have lost all three games since four forwards became unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol.

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Sophomore Jax Murray scored his first two collegiate goals for the Sun Devils as the Badgers fell to .500.

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The Badgers were missing five forwards, one of whom sources said was held out because of a positive COVID-19 test and three others who were close contacts.

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Caufield had his second hat trick for the Badgers and Tarek Baker scored a key short-handed goal.

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Robbie Beydoun made a career-high 49 saves for the Badgers.

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Missing their top two centers, the Badgers nearly emerged with a split against the sixth-ranked Wolverines.

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The Wolverines scored three times in the final 5 minutes, 22 seconds of the second period to turn a deficit into a two-goal lead going into the intermission.

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Dylan Holloway's third-period goal put the Badgers ahead for good after they lost two-goal and one-goal leads.

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Linus Weissbach helped provide the offense and Robbie Beydoun was a stable presence in goal in the Badgers' 2-0 victory over No. 20 Notre Dame.

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