Best Coach -- Professional

Tony Granato
Colorado Avalanche

An awful start to the 2002-03 season cost Bob Hartley his job after almost five years behind the Avalanche bench, and young Tony Granato emerged in late December as both irritant and

inspiration for a veteran club that had grown listless and stale. Granato shifted Peter Forsberg from left wing to center (with brilliant results), helped transform big Scott Parker from goon to useful third-line grinder and dramatically improved the tone of the team dressing room. Almost to a man, the Avs praise Granato -- not long gone from the NHL ice himself -- for his patience, his game-day smarts and his belief in individual accountability. For the moment, the Avs are intent on catching Vancouver in the Northwest Division standings; after that, they've clearly got their eyes on a much larger prize. Paying attention, Detroit?

 
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