The Buffalo Sabres are currently in another coaching search, their fifth in eight years. While this has become a common occurrence for this organization over the last decade, with the possibility of Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart playing elsewhere next season, their next coach must form a successful vision for this team as they strive for a better future.
Adams plans to conduct a thorough search that will include candidates from “a lot of different backgrounds,” but he said coaches with a strong track record in player development will have an edge.
With that in mind, here’s a look at who could fit Adams’ criteria:
Granato was promoted to interim coach for the remainder of the season and finished with a record of 9-16-3. While Buffalo finished in last place, many of its young players, specifically Casey Mittlestadt and Tage Thompson, showed improvement under Granato’s watch.
Granato’s near three decades in coaching consisted of many years as a head coach in the USHL and AHL, before spending the last four years as an NHL assistant and by the end of last season, was the bench boss in Buffalo.
After being interviewed for the job two years ago, the Sabres once again interviewed Grönborg for their head coaching position. Grönborg spent 20 years honing his craft in North America. He played and coached at St. Cloud State, and he eventually took control of the Swedish National Team.
He guided Sweden to back-to-back gold medals at the world championships in 2017 and 2018. Grönborg also proved he’s not simply a tournament coach, as he’s led ZSC Lions in consecutive strong seasons in Switzerland.
The 66-year-old has led his teams to the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons with Washington, Anaheim, and Minnesota. He hasn’t worked with a young roster since his early days with the Capitals.
His career success and lengthy tenure could be a blueprint for immediate improvement for the Sabres, especially with his success rate of reaching the playoffs.
Tortorella led the Columbus Blue Jackets to the franchise’s first playoff series wins. His track record is unmatched by anyone on this list, as Tortorella has reached the playoffs 11 times in 16 seasons. He’s won the Stanley Cup and has twice been named coach of the year.
A finalist for the Sabres job when Phil Housley was hired in 2017, Tocchet led the Arizona Coyotes to one playoff appearance and a combined 125-131-34 record during his four seasons as head coach. He was an assistant coach with Pittsburgh when Sabres associate general manager Jason Karmanos worked for the Penguins.
Tortorella was an assistant coach with the Sabres from 1989-95 and later won a Calder Cup as head coach of the Rochester Americans. While Tortorella would bring accountability, he’s not the best fit for this young roster, especially if Eichel and Reinhart leave.
Quinn who coached Eichel at Boston University was fired by the Rangers after posting a combined 96-87-25 record and one playoff appearance in three seasons.
Leaman has 17 years of experience as a college head coach and led Providence to a national title over Eichel’s Boston University Terriers in 2015. He helped the United States capture a gold medal at the most recent IIHF World Junior Championship, capped by a stunning upset of Canada.
One of the key points in setting up your team for a strong future, I’d argue, is finding the right coach. As I said earlier, the Sabres’ head coaching problem is both a product of and a reason for the team’s lack of stability and their recent struggles. A good NHL team requires a strong head coach who fits into the organization and can lead them to better & brighter days. The right coach can make all the difference in the world for a group of struggling, disenfranchised players. It’s a two-way street, but it’s a big piece of the Sabres’ success or failure going forward.
Who do you want to see the Sabres hire as their next head coach? Is there a name you like that I did not mention? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter.
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