Front Row Seat

Women’s Hockey Remains A Family Affair For Tony Granato

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In hockey circles, Tony Granato is known as a 13-year NHL veteran, an experienced coach in both the NHL and college ranks, and the bench boss of the upcoming U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. 

To others, especially those diehard fans who attended the final game of The Time Is Now Tour, he is better known as the older brother of Cammi Granato, the trailblazing face of the sport and arguably the greatest female player of all-time.

In town on a recruiting trip, Granato stopped by the SAP Center to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team fall to Canada, 3-1. He also pitched in to present the Player of the Game awards and appeared on the NBCSN broadcast for an interview with AJ Mleczko, who was Cammi’s teammate with the U.S. Women’s Olympic squad that won gold in the inaugural Olympic tournament 20 years ago.

“I love women’s hockey for a lot of reasons. Obviously I got to watch it from the get-go because of my sister,” said Granato, who played five seasons here with the Sharks during a career that included stops in New York and Los Angeles. 

“The game continues to get better and better. It’s more entertaining and the players get faster, stronger and more skilled. The progression of the game has been a lot of fun to watch.”

The oldest sibling in the hockey-playing clan from Downers Grove, Ill., Granato is more than happy to take a back seat to his younger sister, who also grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL. Instead, she pioneered the growth of a sport by inspiring generations of future players to play like a girl.

After a storied career at Providence College, Granato competed on the first U.S. team in the inaugural IIHF Women’s World Championship. She would go on to represent the U.S. in more than 200 international games and became the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. Women's Hockey Team. 

Two years after retiring, Granato made history once again by becoming the first woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. 

With the next Olympics on the horizon, Tony Granato has plenty on his plate. Along with his brother, Don, he has instilled a new winning culture in Madison, Wis., where his Badgers are competitive in the Big 10 Conference. And with less than two months to go before he leads the U.S. into battle at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Granato and his former Wisconsin teammate, Jim Johannson, are putting the finishing touches on the U.S. roster.

Still, he never passes up a chance to watch the U.S. take on their North American rivals.

“I always enjoy watching Canada vs. U.S. games,” Granato said. “Whenever the U.S. plays Canada, it doesn’t matter what level, you want to be in the building.”

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