Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Detroit Red Wings assistant Tony Granato eager to get started with 'great lineup'

Tony Granato
The Detroit Red Wings, prone to injury last season, and first-round playoff losers to Boston, are still capable of being a force in the NHL post-season.
That’s the take from Tony Granato, the latest addition to coach Mike Babcock’s staff.
“Absolutely,” Granato said Tuesday when asked if the Red Wings can make a deep playoff run.
“I think it’s a great lineup, and I think it’s a lineup that can win,” Granato added. “The Detroit Red Wings play a system and brand of hockey … that’s tough to play against every night.
“They know how to develop players. They know how to win.”
Granato, who was drafted by the New York Rangers, and also played for the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, has seen the Red Wings from the outside looking in during an NHL career that included stints as an assistant coach and head coach.
Most recently an assistant at Pittsburgh, the 49-year-old Granato signed a one-year contract with an option year in Detroit. He’s tentatively slated to work with the Wings’ defense and penalty-killing team.
And he’s eager to get started.
“I’m really looking forward to being a part of it and seeing what makes the Red Wings tick,” Granato said.
“It’s great to finally be part of (the franchise) and I’m looking forward to helping, and being part of something special.”
Granato, who interviewed with other teams, said he couldn’t ignore the lure of working for an organization run by owner Mike Ilitch and general manager Ken Holland.
“I looked at the team, I looked at the staff, I looked at the management team led by Kenny and ownership,” he said. “This is a premier organization, and I wanted to be part of it.
“I’m lucky it became available when it did and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
Granato filled the vacancy created when Bill Peters left the Wings last month to become head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Babcock has another opening to fill following the departure Monday of Tom Renney, who was named president of Hockey Canada.
Granato’s role on the staff might change depending on Babcock’s next hire, Granato said.
“I think I can relate to the players well,” said Granato, who added that he wants to “be a complement and do whatever Mike needs of me.”
Last season, Red Wings veterans Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missed 37 games apiece due to injuries. Darren Helm missed 40, and Johan Franzen 28.
Those absences from the lineup paved the way for playing time for younger players who contributed as Detroit went 39-28-15 and extended its streak of consecutive seasons in the playoffs to 22.
“There’s no franchise that can match the consistent success that the Wings have had,” Granato said. “They always find a way.”
“I just started watching video on (the younger players). I’ll continue to do my homework over the summer to get to know them a little bit better.
“But I do know there are some exciting prospects that have some great potential to play more significant roles as we move forward.”
Granato scored 248 goals in a 773-game NHL career that ended in 2001.
He had two stints as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.
While coaching the Avalanche in 2008, Granato went face-to-face with Babcock as they argued following a Colorado player’s hit on Wings defenseman Nick Lidstrom.
Several friends sent Granato a photo of the confrontation after he was hired by Babcock.

“I think it shows the competitiveness that we have,” Granato said. “I think we were both defending our players and, yes, it’s a funny thing right now. It’s one of my favorite pictures of me on the bench.”

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Detroit Red Wings add assistant Tony Granato to coaching staff

Tony Granato
Tony Granato filled Mike Babcock’s checklist.
Not coincidentally, he also filled an opening on Babcock’s Detroit Red Wings coaching staff.
Babcock, the Wings’ coach, hired Granato as an assistant Monday on what was a busy day for the team’s staff.
Tom Renney, who had been Detroit’s associate head coach, was named president of Hockey Canada.
Granato had been an assistant to Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh, but was let go when the Penguins replaced Bylsma last mont.
“He’s an impressive guy,” Babcock said of Granato, 49, who filled the vacancy created when Bill Peters left last month to become head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Babcock has a list against which he measures staff candidates.
He wants a “real good person” who must “love hockey” and have coaching experience.
“That’s kind of the order for me,” Babcock said.
Granato, a former NHL player, completed the hat trick.
“He’s a real good person,” Babcock said. “He’s got four kids in college. He talks about his family like they’re more important than hockey, which is what it should be.
“He has vast experience as a player and a coach. He loves the game.”
Babcock talked to the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, and to former Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero, about Granato.
“They all gave him ringing endorsements,” Babcock said. “I was surprised we could get him.
“He met with three other teams first. We let him do that. We were excited he chose to be a Red Wing.”
Granato scored 248 goals in 774 career NHL games before retiring in 2001.
He was head coach of the Colorado Avalanche on two different occasions, for a total of 215 games over three seasons.
Renney was on Babcock’s staff the last two seasons.
Babcock said he’ll apply his checklist when seeking candidates for Renney’s job.
With Hockey Canada, Renney will replace Bob Nicholson as president.
The Canadian Olympic men’s team has won consecutive gold medals. The Canadian women’s team has won gold medals as the last four Olympic games.

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Frank Jiovani, Stan Yee Jr. remain in top five in late model series at Flat Rock Speedway

Stan Yee Jr.
Frank Jiovani of Harrison Township and Stan Yee Jr. of Clinton Township are in the top five in the updated standings for the ARCA Moran Chevrolet Late Model series at Flat Rock Speedway.
Steve Cronenwett Jr., who won the July 12 race at the quarter-mile oval, is first with 1,635 points, and Paul Pelletier is second with 1,575.
Jiovani is third (1,495), Derek Wiley fourth (1,465) and Yee Jr. fifth (1,400).
The next race is the Stan Yee Memorial, a 150-lap event named in honor of Yee Jr.'s father, on July 26.

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Detroit Gold Cup date change will yield 'great show,' Jimmy Shane says

Jimmy Shane
Count the newest Gold Cup champion among those glad about the date change for the annual unlimited hydroplane race on the Detroit River.
“We’ll be back; I’m excited,” Jimmy Shane, whose U-6 Oberto won the APBA Gold Cup on Sunday, said of the move to late August 2015.
“There’s going to be some fantastic racing coming in. It’s going to be an exciting time.”
One feature of the move from the weekend following the Fourth of July holiday, race director Mark Weber said, will be the addition of Grand Prix boats to the racing program.
That’s fine with Shane, who went undefeated in qualifying, heat races and the Gold Cup final last weekend.
“Those Grand Prix boats are going to rock your world,” Shane said. “Those guys put on a great show. Crazy drivers. Crazy boats.”
“You guys are going to be really happy that they changed the date for the Gold Cup, because it’s going to be a great show next year.”
The Detroit River Regatta Association, which puts on the Gold Cup, is considering changing the event from three days to two, Weber said.
But, for the time being, the Gold Cup is scheduled for Aug. 21-23.
“We’re saying it’s three days right now, because those are our traditional dates,” Weber, a Washington Township resident, said.
The DRRA sought a date change because many fans are on vacation and out of town the first two weeks in July due to widespread automotive industry shut-downs, Weber said.
“That was a big part of the problem,” Weber said. “The holiday draws people out of town.”
June weekends were not good, Weber said, because of events like the open-wheel automobile race on Belle Isle and the annual Detroit fireworks show, the latter of which compels the City of Detroit to maximize police overtime expenses.
With July comes the city’s new fiscal year, Weber pointed out.
The weekend of Aug. 21-23 will not interfere with events like NASCAR racing at Michigan International Speedway and the Woodward Dream Cruise.
“Making a major event change is not something you take lightly at all,” Weber said. “That weighed very heavily on our decision. It’s a little scary.
“But we’ve got to embrace this thing the best way we can.”
A casualty of the change will likely be the loss of 5-liter boats racing during Gold Cup weekend, Weber said.
The 5-liters are scheduled to race in Ohio on the new Gold Cup weekend.
“It’s a business decision, nothing against them whatsoever” Weber said. “They will be fine.”
In recent years, unlimited hydroplane teams have traveled to Detroit after racing at Madison, Ind.
Unless the H1 Unlimited order of events changes, Detroit will be fourth on the 2015 schedule, following Madison, Tri-Cities (Washington state) and Seattle.
“There’s a level of concern (about travel),” Weber said. “At the end of the day, we needed to make what we feel is the best decision for this association.”
H1 Unlimited, which sanctions the Gold Cup and other unlimited hydroplane events, is “supportive” of the date change, chairman Sam Cole said.
“H1,” Cole said, “is committed to assisting the DRRA and (ensuring) the long-term viability of the Detroit event and the APBA Gold Cup race,” Cole said in a statement. “H1 leadership will work to integrate the new dates into the 2015 schedule and coordinate changes with any events which might be impacted.”
Grand Prix hydroplanes look similar to unlimiteds and use supercharged engines. The 2014 ACHA schedule includes stops at Valleyfield, Quebec, and Brockville, Ontario.
“They make gobs of noise,” Weber said.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Jimmy Shane wins Detroit Gold Cup in U-6 Oberto unlimited hydroplane

Jimmy Shane

DETROIT – The winner cried. So did the man who thought he should have won.
Jimmy Shane took advantage of a foul by J. Michael Kelly and drove the U-6 Oberto to victory in the Gold Cup final on the Detroit River on Sunday.
It was the first DYC Detroit APBA Gold Cup win for a boat sponsored by Oberto Beef Jerky, which has been in the unlimited hydroplane racing game since 1975.
Steve David, a long-time driver for Oberto, whose retirement prior to this season opened the cockpit for Shane, was the Gold Cup runner-up 12 times.
Shane’s boat, also known as the Miss Madison and owned by the citizens of the Indiana town of Madison, won despite breaking a part on the rear of the boat about halfway through the race.
It was the first Gold Cup for a Miss Madison boat since 1971 when Jim McCormick was the driver.
“This is a childhood dream,” Shane, choking back tears, said after his seventh career unlimited hydroplane victory. “To put my name on the Gold Cup is great.
“I could not be any happier for the city of Madison and the Oberto company. This is a wonderful experience for these guys.”
Kelly, the winner in the final of the Madison Regatta last weekend thanks to a foul against Shane, had a similar Gold Cup misfortune after what otherwise was a solid weekend in the U-1 Graham Trucking boat
Kelly, who said his cockpit timer and GPS malfunctioned, was too quick getting to the marker boats must not reach before the start of the race is one minute away.
That gave Kelly a one-lap penalty and took him out of contention for what would have been his first Gold Cup victory.
The penalty aside, Kelly drove his boat at top speed and crossed the finish about a quarter-lap ahead of Shane’s, but he officially finished fourth in the H1 Unlimited event.
“Nobody’s going to purposely take it from you,” Kelly, who was in tears following the race, said, dismissing the notion of an improper call.
“Now I know what Steve David went through. I know what he feels like; it sucks.
“On the water, you win the Gold Cup, but for the rules you don’t. How long am I going to have to wait for a Gold Cup?”
Kelly had an average speed of 144.534 mph in the final. Shane, who over the final couple laps nursed the boat after the U-6 broke a rear stabilizer bar, averaged 140.863.
“We showed we can beat them,” Kelly said.
Brian Perkins finished second in the U-21 Al Deeby Dodge of Go Fast Turn Left Racing. His average speed was 134.876.
Cal Phipps drove the U-7 Graham Trucking boat to a third-place finish.
The Sterling Heights native’s team set up the U-7 for a rough-water final, he said, but the hydroplane didn’t have the speed of some others in the five-boat final.
“We didn’t have all the top-end speed,” Phipps, who nonetheless was satisfied with the finish, said.  “We don’t have a hurt piece (boat). We’re on the podium.”
Shane leads the H1 Unlimited points list with 3,569 after piling up a Gold Cup-high 2,100 in Detroit. Kelly is second with 3,019.
Shane was the top qualifier and won all four heat races he was placed in at the Gold Cup competition.
Kelly won three of four heats, missing out on first place only in the first heat of the competition, which included Shane.
The weekend began with eight boats hoping to compete for the Gold Cup.
But various mechanical problems took out the U-9 Team Red Dot/Spirit of Qatar; the U-11 Peters & May and the U-12 SERVPRO Miss DiJulio. None of those boats raced Sunday.
The U-22 Webster Racing boat had ignition issues early Sunday, owner Steve Webster said.
The boat was repaired and competed in the final, but was never a factor and finished fifth.

Shane won the H1 Unlimited points championship last season driving for Graham Trucking.

Steve Cronenwett Jr. wins Flat Rock Speedway late model race; Stan Yee Jr. fifth

Steve Cronenwett Jr. won the ARCA Moran Chevrolet Late Model race at Flat Rock Speedway on Saturday night. It was points leader Cronenwett Jr.'s second win of the season.
Brad Riethmeyer finished second and Paul Pelletier third. Dennis Strickland was fourth and Stan Yee Jr. of Clinton Township fifth.
Frank Jiovani of Harrison Township took seventh place.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jon Zimmerman says U-9 crew has to 'work hard' to get boat ready to race at Tri-Cities

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Jon Zimmerman got a chipped tooth, a disappointed psyche and an uncertain immediate racing future after he and the U-9 unlimited hydroplane crashed during a Detroit Gold Cup heat race on the Detroit River.
“I’ve got a little bump in my ribs; that’s about it,” Zimmerman, who said he also chipped a tooth in the Saturday crash. “Everything else is just fine.”
The same could not be said for the U-9 Red Dot/Spirit of Qatar, the Jones Racing boat based in Kent, Wash.
“We’re going to have to work hard to get it to Tri-Cities (to race the final weekend in July in Washington),” Zimmerman said Sunday. “The biggest deal is, we’ve got to find some parts, or build some parts.”
The U-9 crew took the boat engine apart.
“We had to get all the water out of the engine and get it so it doesn’t rust up and (become) unusable before we get home,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman thought the U-9 was capable of winning the Gold Cup.
“We went out there with a plan,” he said. “We had a plan to babysit the boat and save it for the final.
“We were laying up a little bit to save something for the final.”
But the plan was foiled when Zimmerman hit a “bump” in the water on the final lap of a heat race.
His boat went into the air and turned completely around before landing on its bottom.
“It hit that bump, it popped up, did a little wheelie and wouldn’t come back down,” Zimmerman said.
“It’s hard to see that stuff coming, and you can’t really do anything about it anyway. It’s there. You’re going to go through it.”

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