Don Granato lasted three full seasons as coach. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres fire coach Don Granato after disappointing season

The Buffalo Sabres this morning fired coach Don Granato, less than a day after they completed a disappointing 84-point season in which they missed the playoffs for an NHL-record 13th consecutive year.

No replacement was named.

The Sabres also let go of assistant coach Jason Christie and video coordinator Matt Smith.

General manager Kevyn Adams will address the media at 3 p.m. in KeyBank Center. The Sabres are looking for their seventh coach since 2013-14, a shocking number that illustrates their futility.

“I would like to thank Don for his time in Buffalo and commitment to the Sabres organization,” Adams said in a statement. “He has been integral in the development of many of our players and has undoubtedly been the right coach to bring us to where we are now, but I felt it was necessary to move in a different direction at this point in time. My expectation is to be a consistent contender and unfortunately that goal has not been met.

“I would also like to thank Jason and Matt for their contributions to the team. This is not a decision I take lightly but know it is in the best interest of our team moving forward.”

The affable Granato, who was popular with his players, signed a contract extension prior to last season that was to kick in next year. He took over the Sabres as interim coach during an 18-game losing streak in 2020-21 and was named permanent coach following the season.

Following Monday’s 4-2 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Granato, 56, told reporters he wanted to talk about the game, not his uncertain future.

He compiled a 122-125-27 record with the Sabres.

After finishing dead last, the Sabres quickly improved under Granato, earning 75 points in 2021-22 and 91 in 2022-23, when they scored 293 goals and fell one win short of cracking the postseason.

Some players who struggled under Ralph Krueger, Granato’s predecessor, developed into stars. Rasmus Dahlin has taken his place among the NHL’s elite defensemen. Tage Thompson, a winger Granato shifted to center, scored 47 goals in 2022-23.

But it took the Sabres months to find their footing this season. They had their first three-game winning streak in late February and never reached four. They compiled just 244 goals. Their power play looked feeble most of the campaign, converting at just a 16.6 percent clip, the league’s fifth-worst number.

While they trimmed their goals against from 297 to 243, their pedestrian scoring nullified that improvement.

They often started slowly and chased games, getting outscored a whopping 97-67 in the first period.

The Sabres got into the thick of the playoff chase in March but quickly fell out.

Their inability to reach overtime and earn at least one point helped stymie their playoff chances. They registered more regulation wins, 33, than the five teams immediately ahead of them in the standings.

However, they compiled just six “loser” points. Right now, the Washington Capitals, having earned 11 of their 89 points from overtime or shootout losses, hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot.

Check back for much more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *