When the Buffalo Sabres named Don Granato their interim coach, he was expected to simply be a fill-in. After their disastrous season ended, general manager Kevyn Adams could start searching for Ralph Krueger’s permanent replacement.
But a funny thing happened. Granato, who was named the 20th head coach in franchise history Tuesday, quickly emerged as the Sabres’ best long-term option.
After losing their first six games under Granato, 53, the Sabres looked like a radically different team, showcasing a tighter, more aggressive and exciting brand of hockey.
The same team that endured an embarrassing 18-game winless skid finished the 2020-21 season on a 9-11-2 run, beating every East Division heavyweight down the stretch.
Young players thrust into significant roles because of injuries and trades seized their opportunities.
Casey Mittelstadt morphed into the Sabres’ top center. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin shook off a wretched stretch and began displaying his old form. Tage Thompson performed like a second- or third-line winger capable of scoring 25 goals.
While Adams interviewed other candidates, it was believed Granato, who signed a three-year contract, according to reports, would eventually be named coach.
Granato, an assistant coach under Krueger before replacing him March 17, will address the media on a Zoom call Thursday. He’s the Sabres’ seventh coach since 2013, a stunning number that illustrates their futility.
Stay tuned for more updates.
2 thoughts on “Sabres name Don Granato 20th coach in franchise history”
Granato seems to be the correct choice at this juncture ! He showed his ability to motivate our young players and play an upbeat style of hockey ! Now the difficult question: can he teach them how to compete consistently, both mentally and physically against the more seasoned teams in our division and the NHL?
The best news about the Sabres in ages. Some have said they should pick a coach with NHL experience and winning record, etc. but Dan Bylsma had a good record, didn’t make any difference. Nothing is guaranteed, no matter who is chosen. But to me, what counts is the fact Granato stepped into what was easily the worst possible situation in professional hockey, with no end in sight to the myriad of negatives that accompanied the job, took a demoralized, rudderless team with no direction but down, minus it’s star players, possessing only 2 minor league goalies, and many young players who up to that time demonstrated little to counter fears that they were NHL busts, and in a very short time turned the mess around to where the Sabres played entertaining hockey, and won games against the top teams in a division stacked with very good teams. It was nearly miraculous to many fans who had just about given up hope that we would ever see true professional hockey again in Western New York. Nobody should be expecting playoff hockey next season, but I think I speak for many fans, all we want to see is significant improvement, and a team that competes to it’s fullest each time it hits the ice. Don Granato already showed us that. Now, hopefully he can continue that success over a full season. I’m looking forward to next season with a degree of optimism greater than it has been for so very long.