(Thursday Mashup) Maple Leafs considering Tony Granato as potential assistant coach, Dave Nonis meets with media ahead of draft

Photo: (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

According to Darren Dreger, the Maple Leafs have been talking to recently let-go Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato about filling one of three assistant coaching vacancies in Toronto.

The off-season following Pittsburgh’s Cup win, Granato joined Pittsburgh as an assistant to Dan Bylsma (also coached under Bylsma in Sochi). Granato’s focus was the forward units and the penalty kill, which for the most part was a success under his watch.

Granato would also tick off the box of having prior head coaching experience having taken over the Avalanche bench on two separate occasions (2002-04, 2008-09, amassing an 104-78-17 record). The Avalanche made the playoffs in both 2002-03 and 2003-04, but Granato was dismissed after 1st and 2nd round exits, respectively. A roster that included Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Rob Blake, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay was expected to go deep and Granato was reassigned to an assistant’s role.

Granato’s exit from Colorado in 2009 was acrimonious, as GM Pierre Lacroix began pursuing Patrick Roy as his next coach while leaving Granato to twist in the wind, technically still in possession of the head coaching job which he took over from Joel Quenneville prior to the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Lacroix’s pursuit of Roy failed and he didn’t really have a choice but to go in a new direction, hiring Joe Sacco and letting Granato go. The Avalanche scored under 200 goals that year en route to the third overall pick (Duchene) in the draft.

If Granato is brought in, it’s likely to take over the Leafs‘ wayward penalty kill. His results in Pittsburgh suggest there’s some sense in that. The Penguins’ PK finished first in the League in his first season in Pittsburgh, 3rd the year after, 25th in 2012-13 (with a rebound to 92.3% in the playoffs), and 5th this past season (note: received a league-best .911 SV% in 4v5 situations, 15th in CF%).

Nonis Meets the Media Ahead of Draft

Shocking, months of talk about the Leafs trading up isn’t going to come to fruition. Worry not, big changes are a—


Some good news for last:

Thursday Afternoon Links: