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Sabres Make Wrong Decision in Naming Granato Head Coach

The Buffalo Sabres continued a lengthy trend of hiring individuals with inexperience, as they announced Don Granato as their head coach.

The Buffalo Sabres are an organization who has had little to no success over the last decade, and while some of it comes down to bad luck, there is no denying that plenty of it has been self-inflicted. It starts right from the top, as the Pegulas have made some very questionable decisions since purchasing the team over 10 years ago. This includes hiring three first-time NHL general managers in Tim Murray, Jason Botterill, and Kevyn Adams. The first two were clear mistakes, and while it is too early to say the same about Adams, his work at the 2021 trade deadline doesn’t appear to be a great indication of what’s to come.

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Heading into this offseason, Adams had his work cut out for him in many different ways. One was to find the team a permanent head coach after choosing to fire Ralph Krueger midway through the 2020-21 season. While there were many well-known coaches on the market this year, Adams chose to give the job to Don Granato, who served as the team’s interim coach down the stretch of this past season.

Another First Timer

While many Sabres players openly spoke about how great Granato was for their development last season, this hiring from an outsider’s perspective seems quite underwhelming given some of the coaches who were on the market this offseason. Names like Gerard Gallant, David Quinn, and Rick Tocchet are all very respected names who are, or were, available since the Sabres season has been over.

Of course, it is no guarantee any of those names would have wanted to take this job given the franchises struggles as of late, paired with the fact things don’t appear to be turning around soon. Even if that were the case however, there are several other names with head coaching experience at the NHL level such as Bruce Boudreau, John Tortorella, and even the controversial Mike Babcock, who almost certainly would take any opportunity thrown his way at this point.

Instead of grabbing any of those names above, they chose to go with Granato, who outside of his brief 28 game stint as the teams interim coach last season, has zero experience as a head coach behind an NHL bench. It wasn’t as if he had a great run either, going 9-16-3 in that short span for just 21 points. To put it in perspective, that is just five more points than Krueger through an exact same 28 games prior to his firing.

Not Winning Back Eichel

Though the writing has appeared to be on the wall regarding Jack Eichel’s future with this team for some time, perhaps bringing in a reputable coach could have helped convince him to give it one more shot. Instead, they went with another first timer, as they have with so many general mangers as of late, which certainly can’t have their 24-year-old captain very happy.

It likely wouldn’t have mattered a whole lot anyway, but with this hiring you can bet Eichel is as good as gone. What’s even worse is that Adams, who as mentioned above did not impress with his trade deadline work, will be the one making the move. Perhaps he surprises everyone, but it’s hard to have much confidence in anything involving this organization does right now.

Internal Blow Up Needed

It seems that the only thing that can fix this team is rebuilding it entirely. That appears likely to happen from a roster standpoint this season, as Eichel will be gone, and it sounds like players in Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen are fed up and ready to be moved as well. However, the roster isn’t the only thing that needs to be changed.

Until the team has different ownership, it is hard to see anything changing with this team. On top of the ownership being changed, they need to hire individuals with proven track records of success, rather than taking gambles as they have over the last decade. If that doesn’t happen, it is very hard to see the Sabres being able to turn things around and putting a stop to their decade long playoff drought anytime soon.

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