When I first heard the news Granato would be the coach of the Avs, I really couldn't believe it. Despite that commenters here have never been wrong about breaking news, when bbgrunt submitted his comment (not less than 5 minutes after I wrote my own "who should be the Avs next coach" post) my first reaction was to ask for a source. (By the way hat tip to bbgrunt a day late). My surprise quickly devolved into a simmering rage.
After the rage died down, and other reactions started coming in, I started to wonder "Maybe the Avs did this as a way of enticing Joe Sakic to stay one more year. Maybe he didn't want to learn another coaching style, and Granato would give them some familiarity." I'd gladly trade a year or two of Granato coaching for another year or two of Sakic (and Foote, who was here last time Granato coached). Despite the fact this move could squeeze a few more seasons out of SuperJoe I was feeling pretty down about, moping about it and complaining about it to anyone in the office who follows hockey. For some reason the Wings fan here was in a pretty good mood about it. Finally last night (after a beer or two) I finally decided "Ok it's time to move forward, Granato's the coach (again!)".
So here I am ready to move on and it dawns on me that it's never a good sign when your team makes a move that causes you to go through all five stages of the Kübler-Ross model.
I don't think it's just the fact that Granato was hired that bothers me so much. In fact I have nothing against Granato (we'll get to that in a minute), it was the way in which the search played out that really bothers me. The Avs didn't even bring Dineen, McLellan, or Burns in for a courtesy interview. Is Granato, mastemind of the kitten-killing powerplay, really that impressive that he deserves to be hired before even talking to qualified candidates? He may end up being a fine coach, but then again Kineen, McLellan may too, and waiting for an interview with either candidate certainly certainly would have done no harm. Both are promising young coaches and to not even give them the light of day is really unacceptable.
But, like I said, I've come to acceptance so we need to move forward. I have a feeling that much of the negative reaction to Granato, including my own, comes from the fact that he was on the bench during the worst moments since the Avs moved to Colorado. The Brunette goal that ended Roy's career. The season which saw the crumbling of the Avs kingdom (the Kariya/Selanne season). The end of the division title streak. And he was the skipper when the Avs crashed into the lockout with every other team. The bad feelings linger because the franchise hasn't recovered from it yet. No division titles, no real playoff successes. We've been engrossed in mediocrity since Granato's first go around. I think avs fans attach Granato to that, and absolve Pierre LaCroix from that because LaCroix oversaw two cups and Granato mainly oversaw failure (his fault or not).
But to blame all that on Granato would be folly. It's easy to remember all the Hall-of-famers he coached in his season and a half, but a deeper look at the rosters he was dealing with (02-03, and 03-04) shows that while the top was heavy, there was no depth there. The Avs 3rd and 4th lines were being filled with players who may not have been able to make most NHL rosters. In a tournament that requires depth to win, a top heavy lineup like the Avs had those seasons couldn't really be expected to do much, even with the all hall-of-famers.
And Granato wasn't even given a fair chance to begin with. He was hired after 3 months of assistant experience under Bob Hartly. If a company goes bankrupt after hiring a fresh-out-of-college graduate, who interned with the previous CEO, as it's CEO the blame for that failure doesn't lay at the hands of the inexperienced graduate, it lies at the hands of the board who gave the keys of the company to someone not ready for it. I think even Granato would admit he wasn't ready for the head coaches role when he was hired. Now he's got 3 years of assistant experience under former coach Quenneville (whose strengths as a coach happens to be that he's a good teacher) to compliment his time as a head coach.
Despite all that the failures that coincided with Granato's tenure still linger in the back of Avs fans minds, fair or not. I don't have a problem giving Granato a second chance, I have a problem with not giving anyone else a chance at all.