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Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Granato gets the axe: Wisconsin to replace men’s ice hockey coach

Wisconsin will pursue new men’s ice hockey leadership, firing head coach Tony Granato after seven seasons with the team.

Tony Granato is out as the Wisconsin men’s ice hockey head coach, according to the university’s athletics department

"Coach Granato is a great Badger and no one is more passionate about Wisconsin hockey or the University of Wisconsin than he is," Athletic Director Chris McIntosh said in the release. "I have great appreciation for the heart and soul that he has poured into the program during his time as head coach."

The decision was made following two losses over the weekend against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals. 

The Badgers are coming off of a 13-23-0 (6-18 Big Ten) season in which they ranked dead last in the Big Ten. This came directly after the 2021-22 season in which Wisconsin finished 10-24-3 (6-17-1). 

Over Granato’s seven seasons, Wisconsin went 105-129-16 overall and 65-87-12 in Big Ten play.

"I believe our men's hockey program can consistently compete at a championship level,” McIntosh added in the department’s announcement. “My intention is to find a coach that will lead the effort to get us there."

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee was hired in 2016 as Wisconsin’s mere sixth coach since 1966.

Coaching changes are at the forefront of Wisconsin sports this year, as in only his second year on the job, McIntosh fired Wisconsin football head coach Paul Chryst in October following a disappointing 34-10 loss to Illinois. Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonhard served as interim head coach before the hiring of Luke Fickell

“We want to thank Coach Granato for everything he’s poured into this program in the last seven seasons,” McIntosh said at a press conference. “He's an amazing person. He’s an incredible Badger. He’ll always have a place here.” 

“Nobody’s given more to this program than Coach Granato and his staff.”

Wisconsin will now have to find just their third coach this century, after hiring Mike Eaves in 2002 and Granato in 2016.

“We will conduct a national search, it’s a wide open blank slate to find the next leader of our program that can help us get to that level of consistency and that level of success.”

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McIntosh repeatedly emphasized Wisconsin’s championship standards, as he did after firing Chryst.

“At the end of the day, this program has a history and a legacy that has the highest expectations. And it deserves a chance at getting back to a championship level, consistently.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:48 a.m. on March 7.

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