Eventually it happened: Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams sacked head coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday less than 24 hours after the team lost their 12th straight game. Why did it take so long? But considering the team have looked downright ghastly and are set to miss the playoffs for a 10th straight year, it certainly wasn’t unexpected.
Krueger, who was only in his second season with the club, posted a disappointing 36-49-12 record in 97 games. He was the fifth coach dropped since 16-year-old mainstay Lindy Ruff was fired on February 20, 2013. Five coaches: Ron Rolston, Ted Nolan, Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley and Krueger. Five coaches in eight years and one month.
Don Granato, who was an assistant coach under Krueger, is behind the bench so far for the East Division basement. The brother of Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato and Cammi Granato of the Hockey Hall of Fame and arguably one of the greatest women to lace skates, Don also served as Joel Quenneville’s assistant with the Blackhawks. . Appointed interim head coach, there is no guarantee – nor any expectation – that he will get the job in May.
“I’m not going to put a guardrail right now,” Adams said Wednesday during a call with journalists. “The research will be effective immediately. I have in my head and thought a lot about the characteristics and attributes that I think will be important to this team and this organization. I will be talking to a lot of people. A lot of people will be involved. in the decision I don’t want to rush into anything or make a quick decision.
“It’s about getting it right. It’s good to say I’m looking for this or that, but it’s about finding the right person and that’s essential.”
Granato is not expected to be a miracle worker over the next two months; this is a team that, as mentioned earlier, has lost 12 in a row where they have been outscored 50-25 and shut out four times. They are also missing captain Jack Eichel due to injury and other top forwards like Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall have been missing even while on the ice.
So what’s next for the Sabers? Aside from the idea that this team’s roster needs to be torn down and replenished, an experienced head coach is probably a must in western New York.
Here are some former bench bosses – and a few current ones – who may soon get a call from a 716 number.
Saber Coaching Candidates
Babcock back in the NHL would be interesting and could be the one to turn things around in Buffalo like he did in Toronto. However, Adams has spoken about wanting to change the culture and while he’s certain he would, can someone trust him to do it the right way after his tenure with the Leafs ends?
He’s won awards, coached superstars like Alex Ovechkin and only missed the playoffs in two full seasons as a head coach. He has expressed his desire to return to the game after being blown up by Minnesota last season.
In a shocking move, Gallant was fired in January 2020 by the Golden Knights. He has extensive experience coaching a rag-tag group – he led Vegas to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year of existence – and he may have the courage to straighten that out. ship.
After getting the ax in Montreal, Julien could be the experienced guy the Sabers need to turn the corner. And he knows the team that coached against Buffalo for years during their stays in Boston and north of the border.
Yes, Quinn is currently employed by Rangers and has two more years on his contract, but there have been calls for the curtain to fall on his Broadway tenure. So why would the Sabers retread Quinn? He coached Eichel during his year at Boston University, where he won the Hobey Baker as the best college hockey player.
“He’s a friend to me, a mentor and he was pretty close to me even during my early years in the NHL,” Eichel told reporters in 2018 before the two face off in Quinn’s second game as Rangers bench chief. “He was so good to me at the BU and we have such a good relationship, but I think we’re all competitors, right? When you come in, all you do is try to help your team win. “
He added: “He cares a lot about you as a hockey player, but I think he cares more about you as a person, and as players you appreciate that,” Eichel said. “I think that’s kind of what we took from him. He was really good at it.”
Keeping Eichel happy is the # 1 priority and it could be a good game.
Rod Brind’Amour, Rick Tocchet and Travis Green
Unlike Quinn, who is technically under contract, these three guys are all set to become free agents when the final horn sounds on their respective teams’ seasons.
Brind’Amour would not seek to leave Caroline but, as News and Observer’s Luke DeCock reported, it can come down to money. And that could also be the problem with Green in Vancouver. The only thing to watch out for with Brind’Amour is that he and Adams won a Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
As for Tocchet, he might just want to get out of the desert if he gets the chance.
And we’ll add an inexperienced guy in the NHL, but a guy who knows how to be successful on the big stage. Leaman, who won a 2015 NCAA title in Providence, just won a gold in Edmonton at the 2021 World Junior Championship. The head coach of the United States led his team in an uphill battle with the Canadiens – in one game, many didn’t see the Americans win as Canada went through the competition – and not just clinched gold but ruled out the home team In the process.