Matt Ellis (pictured) moved behind the bench when Don Granato was promoted. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres coach Don Granato to discuss filling out staff

As the Buffalo Sabres’ interim coach, Don Granato worked with a staff he inherited.

When general manager Kevyn Adams fired coach Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Steve Smith on March 17, he moved Matt Ellis, his director of player development, and Dan Girardi, a development coach, behind the bench.

Ellis replaced Granato, who ran the power play as an assistant under Krueger. Girardi, meanwhile, took over Smith’s role in charge of the defense.

Granato also had Mike Bales, the assistant in charge of the goalies, and Myles Fees, the video coach.

Now that Granato has been named the Sabres’ permanent coach, he can fill out his own staff.

“Having just accepted the position (Tuesday) and going through the interview process with Kevyn, that’s something we will be discussing in the next week or coming weeks, how our staff may fill out,” Granato said on Zoom call Thursday. “The guys that were here, I have a tremendous amount of respect for and they were incredibly effective and efficient to work for, so they were obviously in the mix moving forward as we sort this out.

“But those are conversations that now that I’m in this position that we’ll be addressing and moving forward on.”

Adams said he “spent a long time on the phone” Wednesday talking to disgruntled captain Jack Eichel’s agents.

While Adams did not reveal any details, he said they “had a great conversation.”

Eichel, who suffered a herniated disc in his neck March 7, wants to undergo a surgery that has never been performed on an NHL player. The Sabres don’t want Eichel, 24, to have the procedure.

In a text to The Associated Press on Thursday, Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, wrote: “We are communicating with the team and are heading toward a resolution.”

Adams said the Sabres’ stance hasn’t changed on Eichel’s injury.

“It’s in the hands of the medical experts,” he said. “That’s really what I said previously and that’s where we’re at right now. So that’s the best I can give.”

It’s believed the Sabres will try to trade Eichel this summer.

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