4 coaching candidates the Sabres could consider

4 coaching candidates the Sabres could consider

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Sabres are once again head coach-less.

Don Granato became the seventh head coach to be fired by the Sabres during the team’s NHL-record 13-season playoff drought on Tuesday, leaving a vacancy behind Buffalo’s bench once again. Granato finished with a 122-125-27 record over three seasons with the Sabres.

The new hire is undoubtedly an important one for general manager Kevyn Adams, who said Tuesday that his next bench boss having previous NHL head coaching experience and pedigree is “important.” Here are four names that the Sabres could consider in their search that fit Adams’ description.

Lindy Ruff

Sometimes, in order to move forward, you need to go back.

Ruff is likely one of the most popular names among Sabres fans as his 16-year stint with Buffalo from the late 1990s to early 2010s was full of memories and a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1999. He also happens to be available after he was fired as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in March, going 128-125-28 over four seasons with one playoff appearance.

While Ruff, 64, brings plenty of playoff experience and a passion for Buffalo, his last season behind the bench in New Jersey was met with harsh criticism from fans and was a major letdown following a 52-22-8 season in 2022-23. Still, if the offer is there, it’s tough to imagine him turning down Buffalo.

Craig Berube

Berube boasts a Stanley Cup on his resume and is also looking for work after the Blues fired him in December.

The 58-year-old made the playoffs during his first four seasons in St. Louis, which started out on a high with a championship in 2018-19. He totaled a 206-132-44 record with the Blues, and also finished with a winning record during a two-season stint as the Flyers head coach from 2013-2015.

His teams are notoriously aggressive and difficult to play against, and he is known to demand a lot from his players. This current Sabres roster does not necessarily fit that mould, however, if Adams is serious about an experienced coach that would shake up the locker room, Berube checks the boxes.

Sabres GM: ‘Our standard needs to be higher’

Gerard Gallant

Best known for leading the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence, Gallant last coached the Rangers in 2022-23 and was fired after a first-round exit in the playoffs.

Gallant’s NHL head coaching career spans three decades, first starting in Columbus in 2003 and also leading the Florida Panthers in the mid-2010s. He has an all-time record of 369-262-4 and has qualified for the playoffs in his last five full seasons.

The 60-year-old is hailed as a players’ coach, which may not be what Adams is looking for after just firing a similar-style leader in Granato. But, Gallant has the experience and playoff pedigree that could help end the Sabres’ drought.

Dean Evason

The former Minnesota Wild head coach was fired in November due to a slow start but made the playoffs in his four prior seasons at the helm, totalling a 147-77-27 record.

During his three full seasons with the Wild, his teams averaged 3.29 goals per game and ranked towards the top of the league in goals for percentage in that span, according to Evolving-Hockey. However, his firing early this season stemmed from woes similar to what the Sabres suffered: poor special teams and a lack of production from star players.

Evason may not be the most notable name out there, but his postseason track record with teams that didn’t possess much star power may entice Adams.

Honorable Mentions

It might be a pipe dream, but Rod Brind’Amour is out of contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after this season and has a history with Adams, as the two won a Stanley Cup together in Carolina as players. If he is open to leaving the Hurricanes, Adams and Sabres brass should be calling with a hefty offer.

Seth Appert doesn’t have NHL coaching experience but has done a phenomenal job as a developmental head coach with Rochester Americans. Bruce Boudreau has never won a Cup, but has over 1,000 NHL games as a head coach under his belt. Jay Woodcroft is more of an up-and-coming option at age 47, having coached Edmonton to two playoff appearances before being fired earlier this season.

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Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

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