Piero Greco spent the last 16 years helping to shape goaltenders in junior hockey and the American Hockey League.
Now he’ll be doing it in the National Hockey League.
The Toronto-born Greco, who guided netminders in the Barrie Colts crease for six years from 2004-10, has been named the goalie coach for the New York Islanders.
The 50-year-old spent the last five seasons working with the Toronto Marlies and the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
“I’m excited to go to New York, but at the same time I’ve had a great five years with the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Greco said. “I met a lot of quality coaches there and made a lot of quality friends from working with (Marlies head coach) Sheldon Keefe, to working with (Leafs general manager) Kyle Dubas.”
Greco replaces former Islanders goalie coach Fred Brathwaite and follows former Maple Leafs president and general manager Lou Lamoriello to the Islanders.
“I’m very excited about (going to New York), especially going with a guy like Lou Lamoriello who I’ve worked under for three years with the Leafs,” he said. “He’s a great person. Outside of a smart manager, he’s just a quality, quality person. So I’m excited to be able to go back to work with him again.”
Greco played for the Sudbury Wolves, Belleville Bulls and Toronto Marlies in the OHL before embarking on a 12-year professional career in Europe with stops in Italy, England and Austria.
The former professional goaltender started his coaching career in Owen Sound in 2002 before joining the Colts in 2004 for six seasons under head coach Marty Williamson.
He helped the Barrie reach the OHL finals in 2010 where he guided Peter Di Salvo and Mavric Parks in the net. Parks led the OHL that year in goals against average (2.34), while Di Salvo lead all goalies with in wins (38).
He spent the next three seasons with the Kitchener Rangers before leaving for the Marlies along with head coach Steve Spott. Last year, Greco was part of Marlies coaching staff that helped lead the Maple Leafs farm club to its first Calder Cup championship.
Both Toronto goalies, Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard, finished in the top seven in goals against average in the AHL. Greco helped Sparks lead the league in goals against average (1.79), save percentage (.936) and wins (31).
Greco says he’ll continue to work with goalies in the NHL the same way he did back in junior.
“I’m just going to go out and be who I am,” he said. “I bring a lot of energy, which is the type of person I am, the type of coach I am. Just making sure these guys come to the rink with the right frame of mind and just work together as a team so we can be successful.”
PHOTO: After 16 seasons of guiding goaltenders in junior hockey and the AHL, Toronto-born coach Piero Greco will be doing it at the NHL level this season after being named the goalie coach for the New York Islanders.