He earned it as Buffalo Sabres remove interim tag from head coach Don Granato

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Apr 1, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato watches his team play during the second period against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After an exhaustive search, the Buffalo Sabres finally removed the “interim” tag and named Don Granato as the 20th head coach in franchise history on Tuesday.

While the team didn’t announce contract terms, TSN and The Athletic reported that Granato signed a three-year deal.

Granato used the 28-game showing to invest in the organization’s future by leaning on young players to take on high-leverage minutes and matchups. Players who enjoyed career-best stretches under his watch included first-round picks Dylan Cozens, Casey Mittelstadt, and Tage Thompson. 

Buffalo Sabres

Don Granato earned it

Granato, 53, took over when Ralph Krueger was fired on March 17 after a 6-18-4 start to the 2021-22 season.

The Sabres went 9-16-3 after Granato was named interim coach.

Granato originally joined the Sabres as an assistant coach prior to the 2019-20 season. He was an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2017-19. Before that, he served as a head coach for more than two decades with teams in the United States Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League.

Granato also was the head coach of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program from 2013-16.

Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams also reportedly interviewed Rick Tocchet and Bruce Boudreau for the job.

The Sabres finished with the NHL’s worst record (15-34-7, 37 points) and missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season. Buffalo has not won a postseason series since the 2006-07 season.

“He came in with a great, positive attitude,” defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said. “He made everyone play very well, made us feel confident. Every day we came to the rink, we were in a good mood. We always knew he had our back, so that’s a huge key for having success.”

–Field Level Media