Stuntin' the Youngin's

When Tony Granato was able to swindle convince Francois Giguere that he was the right coach for the job, he was able to convince FG that he was the right guy to get the most out of all the young talent that was going to populate the Avs roster. On first thought this didn't sound too ridiculous, because under assistant coach Granato the Avs have seen Stastny, Wolski, McLeod and other young players make strides in their game. At least that's what common knowledge was going into the season, and it was easy to pin any underwhelming young contributions on Quenneville's poor handling of the kids.

During my conversation with Adrian Dater, one topic that came up was the complete lack of improvement of TJ Hensick. In fact I told Dater "TJ Hensick is the exact same player as he was when he stepped on the ice a year ago (his debut with the Avs in San Jose)" This got me thinking that maybe Granato wasn't very good with young talent.

So i decided to do some research. Here's a list of all the players that have had significant playing time with the Avs who were called up at 23 years old or younger, while Coach Granato was with the Avs (assistant or head coach) and their Pts/game in the seasons that followed. Also shown is the points per game as a minor leaguer/college players.

Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5
LE/Minor League
Marek Svatos
0.82 0.45 0.6 0.51
Brad Richardson
0.11 0.13 0.08

Cody McCormick
0.11 0.18 0.1 0.24
Wojtek Wolski
0.66 0.62 0.56

1.30 (OHL)
Paul Stastny
0.95 1.08 0.8

1.36 (DU)
TJ Hensick
0.35 0.35

Cody McLeod
0.07 0.27

David Jones
0.22 0.33

Chris Stewert

John-Michael Liles
0.43 0.6 0.62 0.4 0.55 1.28 (Mi St)
Kyle Cumiskey


Kurt Sauer

Ossi Vaananen

Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4

Peter Budaj
0.9 0.905 0.903 0.895

Budaj's save % is listed.
Ossi Vaananan and Kurt Sauer's Pts/game wasn't listed since they are defensive defense men.
Seasons in which a player played less than ~25 games were dismissed.

Of the 14 players listed above, I can count only 4 who seem to be on a path to reaching their full potential: Kurt Sauer, Paul Stastny (even though he has seemingly regressed this season) Cody McLeod, and Cody McCormick. Wojtek Wolski and JM-Liles have improved defensively, but their offensive potential seems to have shrunken.

In fact the only areas that the younguns seem to be getting better is in the areas of the game that Granato was good at; being a pest and solid defensive forward. But young Avalanche players have significantly regressed, or at least retarded, their offensive growth under Granato's coaching watch.

Even more important than the nhumbers, is that it's supposed to be the assistants job to build confidence in players and be the "good cop" to the head coaches "bad cop". Wolski, Svatos, Budaj, Liles and Hensick all seem to have had their confidence shattered at some point in the Granato era. Some of that is probably due to the overlapping of the Quenneville era, but it's Granato's job to build confidence too, and he's clearly failing in that regard.

After looking into it it seems to me that Granato's lone coaching strength is in teaching forwards and defenders how to be better in their own zone, as shown by the improvements of Wolski, Liles, Stastny, McLeod, McCormick, and Sauer. Granato looks to have deficiencies in teaching offense, instilling confidence, and . Combine that with the apparent lack of X's and O's and Granato is a niche coach, a guy who has a specialty but clearly isn't suited for a high level coaching position. Even though the data isn't a slam dunk, and some of the problems can be attributed to Quenneville as well, I think Granato has hurt the Avs young guns more than he's helped.


  1. I find it funny that while many of the "youngins" have improved defensively under Granato...the older and wiley "defensive defensemen" have forgotten (for the most part) how to be good in their own zone. Interesting irony methinks

  2. it is interesting, and completely baffling. I don't get it.