Tony Granato photo

Badgers men's hockey coach Tony Granato will be named head coach of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team on Friday, sources say.


Tony Granato will add a major international element to his hockey coaching resume next year.

The University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach will be named head coach of the U.S. Olympic team on Friday, sources confirmed on Thursday. USA Hockey has a news conference scheduled for 9 a.m.

Granato, 53, has been a head coach in the NHL and in college with the Badgers, but the 2018 Olympics will be his first major Team USA assignment as a head coach.

Unlike the last five Olympics, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Games. League owners didn't like shutting down for weeks during the season, and the NHL didn't get concessions it was looking for from the International Olympic Committee and the NHL Players' Association.

Instead, players from the American Hockey League, European leagues and college hockey are expected to participate.

The men's hockey tournament in PyeongChang, South Korea, runs from Feb. 14 to 25, so Granato will miss the Badgers' regular season-closing series at Ohio State on Feb. 23-24. It's possible that he'll also be gone for the final home series against Minnesota on Feb. 9-10.

The Badgers are off during the first weekend of the Olympics. Associate head coaches Mark Osiecki and Mark Strobel are likely to be in charge at UW in Granato's absence.

In his first season at his alma mater, Granato led the Badgers to the Big Ten Conference championship game and had the team in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in the final weekends.

UW was 20-15-1 last season, an improvement of 12 victories over the year before. Granato was named the Big Ten's coach of the year.

He was an assistant coach with three NHL teams over 12 seasons before taking over the Badgers program. He also spent parts of three seasons as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

He was an assistant coach for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in Sochi, Russia.

In his playing career, Granato was a veteran of international competition. He played for Team USA in seven events, including the 1988 Olympics the season after his four-year Badgers playing career ended.

Unlike 30 years ago, however, the lead-up to the 2018 Olympics will not include a long residency for men's players.

When Granato played, training started in the fall and continued into the Games. For PyeongChang, the U.S. is expected to pull players together shortly before competition begins, although a schedule hasn't been announced.


Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.