BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres assistant coach Don Granato is hospitalized with pneumonia and will miss the start of the season.
The Sabres announced Tuesday that Granato was taking a medical leave of absence. Top minor league coach Chris Taylor will fill in on an interim basis.
The 52-year-old Granato joined the Sabres in June as part of newly hired coach Ralph Krueger’s staff. Granato spent the past two years as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks.
His brother is former NHL player and current Wisconsin coach Tony Granato. Sister Cammi Granato is a former U.S. national hockey team captain and was hired as a pro scout by the NHL’s expansion franchise Seattle last month.
The Sabres open the season at Pittsburgh on Thursday.
When people talk about former NHL player and current Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato, it’s common for the discussion to shift to one of his siblings as well. In most cases, they end up talking about his well-known hockey playing sister Cammi, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
This time around, Tony’s brother Don is the focus. Don Granato was named the head coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (or USNTDP) today. Granato will become one of the two head coaches employed by the program, serving as the head coach of the Under-17 Team. The Penguins Web site points out that this was the same job that John Hynes – head coach of their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – once held for six years.
Don Granato has enjoyed plenty of success in his 15 years of coaching at various levels of hockey, as you can see from this mini-resume from the Penguins site.
Granato, 44, began coaching in 1993. The Downers Grove, Ill., native was the first-ever coach and general manager of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), where he twice led the team to two Anderson Cup titles as regular season champions and also coached them to a Clark Cup as playoff champion.
After spending three seasons in the ECHL – winning a Kelly Cup with the Peoria Rivermen in 2000 – Granato moved to the American Hockey League (AHL), where he won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the most outstanding coach in 2001 with the Worcester IceCats.
He spent four seasons with the IceCats, the minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, from 2000-05, becoming the winningest coach in franchise history with a 191-130-45-14 record.
After serving as an assistant coach for St. Louis in 2005-06, Granato was head coach of the Chicago Wolves, then the minor-league affilate of the Atlanta Thrashers, from 2008-10. He spent last season as a scout with the Vancouver Canucks.
(Photo credit: Ross Dettman of the Chicago Wolves via USA Hockey.com.)