The Buffalo Sabres will conduct a coaching search while considering Don Granato as a candidate, general manager Kevyn Adams said Wednesday.
Granato was promoted to the position March 17, replacing Ralph Krueger after the Sabres had lost 12 straight games (0-10-2) and their record fell to 6-18-4. Granato had been an assistant under Krueger.
Under Granato, Buffalo lost its first six (0-5-1), then went 9-11-2 the rest of the season.
Adams said he and Granato spoke about his status briefly after the Sabres finished the season 15-34-7, last in the NHL with 37 points and out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th straight season.
“I just want to talk to a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds, so we’re going to do that,” Adams said in his postseason media conference. “And Donny totally understood.
“And I think he believes that he’s ready and capable of being the head coach of this team, and I understand that he did a very good job under challenging circumstances, and now we’ll go through the process.”
Granato said Adams did not give him a timetable and is comfortable with where the process stands.
Asked what he was able to show he could bring to Buffalo, Granato said, “There’s definite signs of progress, I felt. I think that was obvious.”
Granato said the Sabres gradually earned more respect from opponents and saw better results in data, and the players were energized and had a vision for the future. He also highlighted his ability to make adjustments within games and from game to game.
“Nobody here is satisfied, but you see and feel the confidence and belief system has changed,” Granato said.
Granato said he coached Buffalo as if he would be the coach next season, looking at the long term, not the short term.
“We’re not going to be a desperate team,” Granato said. “We’re going to get better every day, and the better we can progress, the more those wins are going to come or signs of those wins coming, and I think our guys have felt that and they know they’re building something. That was great to be a part of and obviously something I would like to be a part of moving forward.”
Adams said the coach must develop young players.
“There’s so many great coaches out there, and I think one of the keys that maybe doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to a head coach is, are they the right head coach with the team that you have?” Adams said. “… Every coach has positives and negatives like all of us do, and does that line up with the current construct of your team? And certainly, we have a lot of young players, so the development is critical.
“One of the key messages that came out from our young players and the end-of-the-season meetings was, they felt like they weren’t caught in the middle. They understood exactly what they were supposed to do, and then they felt that they were believed in by the staff, meaning if they made a mistake, they could understand what it was, and now let’s go back out there and not do it again.”