Ralph Krueger and the Buffalo Sabres won’t be celebrating this holiday. A certain former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach may be, however.
A little before noon on St. Patrick’s Day (Wednesday), the Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Ralph Krueger. Krueger was struggling to get his team achieving the success the roster had clearly been built with in mind. In turn, Buffalo named Illinois native and former Blackhawks assistant coach Don Granato to the interim head coach position.
Prior to accepting the Buffalo gig, Krueger was a respected coach who guided Europe during the World Cup of Hockey to second place. He also was chairman of the Southampton Soccer Club between 2014 and 2019. He enjoyed success in both, but those images are largely replaced by his awful 2012-13 Oilers team and the 2021 Sabres who own a 12-game losing skid.
Don Granato was an assistant coach for the Blackhawks between 2017 and 2019 before taking the same position in Buffalo. In Chicago, Granato was working with Ulf Samuelsson under Joel Quenneville before both were fired. Granato stayed on with Jeremy Colliton for an extra season before taking the Buffalo job.
Before his time in Chicago, Granato was an associate coach, under his brother Tony Granato, for the U. Wisconsin Badgers. Before that he was head coach for the USHL under 17 and 18 teams. Granato head coached teams haven’t reached the playoffs since 2004.
Though he also hasn’t been a head coach in a long time, he has had success in multiple levels previously, including a Kelly Cup as winner of the ECHL and a record of 48-20-9. Although Granato has seen some success in the AHL, his time with Chicago saw one of the worst penalty kills in 2019.
Here’s hoping Buffalo figures their stuff out, and the Illinois-born Granato can steer them away from this downward spiral. Buffalo remains searching for a full-time head coach replacement.