Finally, it happened: Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams fired head coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday less than 24 hours after the team lost its 12th straight game. No one knows why it took so long, but considering the team looks downright terrible and is about to miss the postseason for the 10th year in a row, it was definitely not unexpected.
Krueger, who was just in his second season with the club, posted a disappointing 36-49-12 record in 97 games. He was the fifth coach fired 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 a month.
Behind the bench for now for the East Division basement dweller is Don Granato, who was Krueger’s assistant coach. Brother of Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato and Cammi Granato, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and arguably one of the best women to tie skates, Don also served as Joel Quenneville’s assistant with the Blackhawks. Named interim head coach, there is no guarantee, or expectation, that he will get the job in May.
“I’m not going to put up any railing right now,” Adams said Wednesday. during a call with reporters. “The search will be effective immediately. I have in mind and thought a lot about the characteristics and attributes that I think will be important to this team and organization. A lot of people I will talk to. A lot of people will be involved in the decision. I don’t want to rush nothing or make a quick decision.
“It’s about getting it right. It’s great to say I’m looking for this or that, but it’s about finding the right person and it’s critical.”
Granato is not expected to be a miracle worker for the next two months; This is a team that, as mentioned above, lost 12 in a row where they were outscored 50-25 and shut out four times. Captain Jack Eichel is also missing due to injury and other top forwards, such as Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall, have been missing even on the ice.
So what’s next for the Sabers? Aside from the idea that this team’s roster must be torn down and rebuilt, an experienced head coach is likely to be a must-have in Western New York.
Here are some former heads of banks, and some current ones, who might get a call from a 716 number soon.
Sabers training candidates
Babcock in the NHL would be interesting and could be the one to turn things around in Buffalo like he did in Toronto. However, Adams spoke about wanting to change the culture and while it is true that he would, can anyone trust that he will do it the right way after how his tenure at Leafs ended?
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He’s won awards, coached superstars like Alex Ovechkin, and only missed the playoffs in two full seasons as head coach. He has expressed his desire to get back in the game after Minnesota let him go 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 final in its first year of existence) and may have the courage to fix this boat.
After receiving the ax in Montreal, Julien could be the seasoned guy the Sabers need to turn the corner. And he knows the team that has trained against Buffalo for years during their stints in Boston and north of the border.
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Yes, Quinn is currently employed by the Rangers and has two more years on his contract, but there have been some calls to see the curtain drop on his Broadway tenure. So why would the Sabers retread Quinn? He coached Eichel during his freshman year at Boston University, where he won the Hobey Baker for best college hockey player.
“He is a friend to me, a mentor and has been very close to me even during my early years in the NHL.” Eichel told reporters in 2018. before the two meet in Quinn’s second game as the Rangers’ bench chief. “He was so good to me at BU and we have such a good relationship, but I think we’re all competitors, right? When you go out, all you’re doing is helping 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 him,” Eichel said. “I think that’s what we took from him. He was really good at it.”
Keeping Eichel happy is priority number one and this could be a good match.
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Rod Brind’Amour, Rick Tocchet and Travis Green
Unlike Quinn, who is technically under contract, these three guys are ready to become free agents when the final horn honks in their respective teams’ seasons.
Brind’Amour is reportedly not looking to leave Carolina but, as Luke DeCock of The News and Observer reported, it can be reduced to money. And that could also be the problem with Green in Vancouver. The only thing to note with Brind’Amour is that he and Adams won a Cup alongside the Hurricanes in 2006.
As for Tocchet, he may only want to get out of the desert if given the chance.
And we’ll include a guy with no NHL experience, but a guy who knows how to make it on the big stage. Leaman, who won a 2015 NCAA title at Providence, is coming off a gold medal performance in Edmonton at the 2021 World Junior Championships. The USA head coach led his squad into an uphill battle with the Canadians, in a game that many did not see the Americans win as Canada made its way into the competition, not only taking the gold, but leaving the home team out in the process.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.