Sabres name Don Granato as next head coach

Granato will stick around as head coach of the Sabres after a successful 27-game stint during the 2020-21 season

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres have named Don Granato as the team's 20th head coach in franchise history on Tuesday. Granato gets a three-year deal from the team.

Granato took over coaching duties back on March 17 after Ralph Krueger was fired and went 9-15-3 behind the bench. General manager Kevyn Adams coached one game and lost when Granato was in the NHL's COVID-19 Protocols.

It was obvious this team was much better under Granato, as players like Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt, Henri Jokiharju, Tage Thompson and Rasmus Asplund turned around their seasons and showed why they’re the future of the Sabres organization.

Granato has never had a NHL head coaching job, but he’s been an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

Many think Granato is an inexperienced head coach when in reality, he’s been a career coach. In the American Hockey League with the Worcester IceCats, he won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as Coach of the Year in 2001. He spent seven years in the AHL as a head coach with the IceCats and Chicago Wolves.

Granato won a Kelly Cup championship with the Peoria Rivermen of the ECHL back in 2000, and was also a head coach with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. He also spent time with the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he coached players like Jack Eichel and Thompson while he was there.

It really isn’t a surprise that Granato is the Sabres' new head coach. Adams knew this process would take a while, as he wanted to speak with a lot of coaches with different backgrounds. Granato was the guy they had to beat, and Adams didn’t hear anything that swayed him from that.

After Granato took over for Krueger, he instituted a system that played to the strengths of each guy. Players were no longer asked to do things they weren’t good at. Granato took the things they were good at and meshed them into a system that worked.

Assistant coaches Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi played key roles, and the players listened and learned from these two long-time NHL players. I know Ellis very well, and he has a brilliant hockey mind. He also has a work ethic that’s second-to-none. Players learn under Ellis. I also think Girardi got Dahlin and Jokiharju to just relax and go play hockey. It showed up big time in their play.

The team was on information overload under the tutelage of Dan Bylsma, and pretty much had no system at all under Phil Housley and Krueger.

Both Granato and Adams will be speaking to the media on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET. You will be able to hear the entire conference call during "The Instigators" on WGR Sports Radio 550.

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