The Buffalo Sabres announced on Wednesday morning that head coach Ralph Krueger and assistant Steve Smith were relieved of their duties. Don Granato will be the interim head coach with development coaches Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi serving as his assistants.
Kevyn Adams says search is on “immediately” for new #Sabres coach. On firing Ralph Krueger: “It needed to be done now. It felt like the right time now. It’s about how we move forward, this is a chance to begin to move forward and get this pointed in the right direction.”
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 17, 2021
The firing comes after the Sabres’ 12th straight loss (0-10-2) in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils, who were 0-10-1 in their previous 11 home games, on Tuesday night. Despite adding forward Taylor Hall and forward Eric Staal in a busy offseason, the Sabres’ 5-18-4 record is the worst in the NHL this season by eight points.
The Sabres, who replaced GM Jason Botterill with Kevyn Adams last June, have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2011 and have the longest active playoff drought in the NHL.
Krueger went 36-49-12 in 97 games with the Sabres over less than two seasons.
Granato will be the Sabres’ seventh head coach in the past nine seasons.
The Sabres’ average of 2.07 goals-per-game this season ranks last in the NHL while their 3.39 goals-against per game average is the third-worst. Though their 26% power-play efficiency is ninth and 79.7% penalty-killing rate is the league average.
Granato has been an assistant on Krueger’s staff since 2019 and was an assistant on head coach Joel Quenneville’s staff with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2016-2018.
Girardi played 927 career NHL games over 13 seasons with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning from 2006-2019. Ellis played 356 career NHL games over nine seasons with the Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings, playing 286 of them in Buffalo.
This is the third head coaching change a team has made this season after the Canadiens replaced Claude Julien with associate Dominique Ducharme as the interim on February 24 and the Flames fired Geoff Ward in favor of Daryll Sutter on March 5.
Adams also stated that he is in the market for an assistant GM.
The Sabres will visit the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday night in Granato’s debut as the interim head coach.
By Harrison Brown