BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired Don Granato and Mike Bales as assistant coaches on new head coach Ralph Krueger’s staff, the team announced this morning.
The Sabres also officially announced Krueger will retain assistant Steve Smith, a former NHL defenseman he had on his staff with the Edmonton Oilers.
Granato, 51, has coached at all levels – junior, college, pro and NHL – over his 26-year career. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Before returning to the NHL, Granato served as an associate coach at Wisconsin under his brother, Tony, for one year.
Following a short playing career, Granato spent seven seasons as a head coach in the junior United States Hockey League before moving to the ECHL, a pro circuit. He also served as general manager during parts of those tenures.
After winning an ECHL championship with the Peoria Rivermen in 1999-00, Granato coached the St. Louis Blues’ affiliate, the Worcester IceCats, five seasons. He was named the AHL’s top coach in 2000-01.
Following one year as an assistant coach in St. Louis, Granato became a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Granato has also coached the AHL Chicago Wolves, led the U.S. National Team Development Program and had other coaching gigs with USA Hockey.
Meanwhile, Bales knows Sabres GM Jason Botterill well from their days together in Pittsburgh. Bales spent six seasons with the Penguins, where Botterill was the associate GM.
Following two seasons as the Penguins’ goalie development coach, Bales spent four years as their goalie coach, winning two Cups.
The Penguins, who used goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray during their championship runs, fired him shortly after earning their second consecutive Cup in 2017.
The Hurricanes quickly hired Bales, and last season, they roared to the Eastern Conference final utilizing the unheralded tandem of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney, two castoffs.
Bales played 18 pro seasons following his three-year college career at Ohio State. He went 2-15-1 with a 4.13 goals-against average and an .869 save percentage in 23 games with the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators during his NHL career.
The Saskatchewan native played 39 games in the Sabres organization in 1997-98 with the Rochester Americans, sharing the crease with future Sabres goalie Martin Biron, then an AHL rookie.
Bales, a fifth-round pick by the Bruins in 1990, spent the final nine years of his career in Europe before retiring in 2010.
Tom Ward, an assistant coach who served under former head coaches Phil Housley and Dan Bylsma, is still listed on the Sabres’ staff page.
Today’s announcement means the Sabres won’t retain associate coach Davis Payne, assistant coach Chris Hajt or goalie coach Andrew Allen from Housley’s staff.