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UW MEN'S HOCKEY

A slow start has Cole Caufield in the minors but Tony Granato says the former Badgers star will be back in the NHL soon

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Canadiens Kings Hockey

Canadiens right wing Cole Caufield shoots during the third period against Los Angeles on Saturday.

University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach Tony Granato thinks Cole Caufield's demotion to the minor leagues will be a short stint.

Caufield, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in men's college hockey as a Badgers sophomore last season, will try to find his scoring touch in the American Hockey League.

The Montreal Canadiens on Monday sent him to their AHL affiliate in Laval, where he started his quick pro ascent last season.

Caufield had just one assist in 10 games this season and the Canadiens are in last place in the Atlantic Division at 2-8.

"To be honest with you, if you told me a month ago this was going to happen, I'd say no chance. He's all set," Granato said Monday. "But it's a slow start to the season. Things went well for him last year. And this year, they just weren't going in."

Caufield didn't score a goal in his first four games for the Badgers last season, then had 30 over his final 27 contests to win the national goal-scoring race by 11.

"Obviously, they feel it's better for him to go down and regain his confidence and that was the decision that they made," said Granato, who hadn't spoken to Caufield since the Canadiens made the move Monday morning after a 1-3 West Coast road trip. "I haven't seen enough games to critique it and say it's right or wrong."

See how Kohl Center staff build the ice rink that the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team will play on in the 2021-22 season.

Caufield played two games with Laval last April after UW's season ended. He scored twice in his pro debut on the same night he won the Hobey, then added another goal a day later before being called up by the Canadiens.

"He's going to be back fast," Granato said. "I don't think there's any doubt. I mean, what he did last year wasn't a fluke."

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