Don Granato is an option, but he’s far from the only one.
Since 2015, the Buffalo Sabres have cycled through a small handful of head coaches. It’s a pattern that both lends itself to the team’s lack of stability and god-awful record on the ice, and is also a product of those things at the same time. In reality, no Sabres head coach has lasted more than two seasons since Lindy Ruff left in 2013. Buffalo keeps rebuilding and rebuilding, but they have yet to hit the nail on the head when it comes to their bench boss.
Dan Bylsma lasted 164 games – two seasons exactly – and finished his time in Buffalo with a 68-73-23 record, a .485 win percentage. Phil Housley coached the same number of games and the team was slightly worse off, with a 58-84-22 record and .421 win percentage. Ralph Krueger made it through only 97 games and got the team to a .433 win percentage with a record of 36-49-12.
Don Granato has served as interim head coach for 28 games, during which the Sabres went 9-16-3 for a .375 win percentage. It’s a very small sample size, so let’s not start comparing him to those other coaches right off the bat.
We don’t yet know who will be behind the bench for Buffalo when the 2021-22 season rolls around. General manager Kevyn Adams has promised an extensive search, and Granato’s name is certain to be on the short list given his rapport with the players, positive attitude regarding the franchise and how, although the record may not show it, the team looked to turn things around once he took over.
Laying it all out realistically, the Sabres organization looks like a hot mess right now. Your captain, Jack Eichel, spoke out about what he felt have been discrepancies between the team and his own doctors regarding the treatment of a herniated disc in his neck. Sam Reinhart, your next-best forward, sounds like he’s ready to move on. Rasmus Ristolainen has said for the third straight season that he’s open to a trade. The team finished last in the NHL in a miserable season, and we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to try and find anything positive to talk about.
One of the key points in setting up your team for a strong future, I’d argue, is finding the right coach. As I said earlier, the Sabres’ head coaching problem is both a product of and a reason for the team’s lack of stability and their recent struggles. A good NHL team requires a strong head coach who fits into the organization and can lead them to better & brighter days. The right coach can make all the difference in the world for a group of struggling, disenfranchised players. It’s a two-way street, but it’s a big piece of the Sabres’ success or failure going forward.
So is Granato the right answer? There are certainly options out there, which we’ll discuss here at Die By the Blade over the coming weeks (or until Adams makes a decision). John Tortorella is ready to move on from the Columbus Blue Jackets. David Quinn just got fired by the New York Rangers. Gerard Gallant is out there, but could be headed to the Seattle Kraken. Rick Tocchet is another name I’ve seen thrown around. The list goes on and on, but first, let’s start with your thoughts.
Who do you want to see as the next head coach of the Buffalo Sabres – and why? Vote & leave your thoughts in the comments.