Tony Granato returns as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche

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DENVER - Tony Granato returned as coach of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, four years after he was demoted from the job.

Granato will take over from Joel Quenneville, who parted ways with the Avalanche two weeks ago by mutual agreement.

Granato was 72-33-28 when he led the team from 2002 to 2004. He has been an assistant coach since July 2004, when the Avs hired Quenneville.

"Tony has gained tremendous coaching experience over the last five seasons behind the Avalanche bench," general manager Francois Giguere said.

Giguere said Granato knows the depth chart well, admires the team and enjoys working with the younger players.

"I'm excited about this challenge," Granato said. "I know this team has a great mix of youth, experience, skill and speed. I'm looking forward to this new opportunity ahead."

Before becoming a coach, Granato played for 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He had 248 goals, 244 assists and 1,425 penalty minutes in 773 regular season games.

He was selected for the NHL all-rookie team in 1989 and played in the all-star game in 1997.

Quenneville was 131-92-23 in three seasons with Colorado, but just 2-2 in playoff series after inheriting a team that was on the slide after a decade of dominance in the NHL.

His departure came one week after Colorado was swept out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings.

Giguere said at the time he wanted the next coach to have an up-tempo philosophy.

Quenneville was an assistant with the Avalanche during their Stanley Cup run in 1996, then was hired away by St. Louis. He spent eight seasons with the Blues, becoming the team's winningest coach with 307 victories.

"Whatever happens going forward, my memories are all going to be positive here," Quenneville said when his departure was announced.

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