The Buffalo Sabres took over three months in their search for a head coach and in the end decided to hire the guy right under their nose. After interviewing candidates such as former Arizona Coyotes bench boss Rick Tocchet and asking for permission to speak to Ottawa assistant Jack Capuano, the Sabres chose to make Don Granato the 20th head coach in Buffalo franchise history.
Granato was made interim head coach on March 17 after Ralph Krueger was fired in the midst of their NHL record 18-game losing streak and went 9-16-3 in the second half. The 53-year-old has vast experience as a head and assistant coach in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, the NCAA and as part of the US National Development Program and showed an ability to reach and draw out better performances from Sabres youngsters like Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Dahlin, and Dylan Cozens that Krueger was unable to do.
“His way to play was how I learned to play hockey,” Dahlin said in his end-of-season media availability last month. “But the thing I felt was that he trusted me as a player. He really saw what my potential was, and I felt comfortable playing out there. I wasn’t thinking too much.”
That ability may be critical for Buffalo, as it appears that the organization will be building around Mittelstadt, Cozens, Dahlin, and the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and embarking on their second full rebuild with the likely departure of team captain Jack Eichel, leading scorer Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
There has been no news regarding the health status of Eichel and the decision of whether to rehabilitate his injured neck or to have surgery, but there have been indications that the Sabres would prefer to trade the 24-year-old center and let the team acquiring him deal with the issue.
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The Sabres have not given any signals on who they will select with the top overall selection next month. Most draft prognosticators have University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power as the likely pick, but after Power indicated in an interview following the Draft Lottery that he was leaning towards returning to the University of Michigan, there has been some speculation that might dissuade the Sabres from choosing big blueliner.
With Granato’s reputation for developing young players, his hiring could be a signal to Power’s camp that he will benefit from turning pro than returning for his sophomore college season.
Ep 13: Vigneault Canned, Canucks Make Moves, Latest Headlinesby Full Press Coverage on December 8, 2021 at 5:03 pm
Mike, Jim, and Chris […]