Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – New Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato joined Andrew Peters, Craig Rivet and Martin Biron during "The Instigators" on Friday. Granato wouldn’t confirmed that Matt Ellis, Dan Girardi and Mike Bales are being retained for his coaching staff, but he did say that’s what he’s moving towards.
“The staff was incredible," Granato said on WGR.
“We moved Matt Ellis and 'Danny' Girardi in there and they didn’t have coaching experience, but they have tremendous hockey experience. They were able to help me convey our message to the players, excite the players. So I did push, and it was accepted that those were the guys that we would look at retaining.”
Granato said he wants to finish out the staff before making any formal announcement.
When Granato took over for Ralph Krueger, the Sabres were on a horrendous losing streak and had long been out of the playoff race. Things improved greatly under Granato, and he knows why.
“The psyche was real damaged. We didn’t believe. We didn’t see how we could win. We felt vulnerable," Granato said. "We convinced ourselves we were vulnerable, and so I wanted to challenge the psyche, because the strongest and weakest thing in your body is your mind.”
Granato thought there were other mental aspects of the game that he needed to address.
“I asked them do we need to win to believe, or can you believe before you win, and they embraced that," Granato said. "They couldn’t see how they could impact the game with their talent collectively, so we needed to get some real conviction. That’s where the staff was incredible, and that’s when you saw [Rasmus] Dahlin and [Casey] Mittelstadt play much better.”
That still doesn’t explain how those guys gained the confidence to play better.
“I felt really strongly that I needed to unleash them, so we could see their talent and then tweak their direction. I knew I had to empower them,” Granato said.
Granato hopes to have a full announcement on his coaching staff by the first round of the NHL Draft, which is set for next Friday, July 23.
In the meantime, Granato is set to throw out the first pitch at Friday night's Toronto Blue Jays game at Sahlen Field against the Texas Rangers.
In case you missed Granato's interview, you can listen to it below:
***Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)