Don Granato is here to stay.
The Buffalo Sabres made it official on Tuesday afternoon, naming Granato as the 20th head coach in franchise history and formally dropping the interim tag that he had been coaching under for the final half of last season.
It seems that Granato’s work in quelling a truly disastrous situation in 2021 earned him the upper hand in the Pegulas’ search for the sixth Sabres head coach in the past nine seasons.
Granato was promoted from Sabres assistant to head coach on March 17th, 2021 when the team mercifully fired Ralph Kruger on the heels of a dreadful 6-18-4 start that ultimately produced an astonishing 18-game winless streak. Granato, then, was prepared to take control of perhaps the most toxic locker room in recent NHL history. It was a tall task, to say the least. Yet the veteran bench boss managed to contain the carnage to the best possible degree given the circumstances, guiding the Sabres to a somewhat respectable 9-16-3 finish to the year.
As a head coach, Granato has achieved immense success across numerous professional hockey leagues. He led the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers to a league championship in 1996, won the Kelly Cup with the Peoria Riverman of the ECHL in 2000, and was named the AHL Coach of the Year in 2001 while with the Worcester Ice Cats.
Granato also served as head coach of the United States National Development Program from 2013-2016, capturing two gold medals and a silver medal at the World U18 Championships while additionally being credited as an influential force behind Auston Matthews’ early development.
The 53-year-old has various stints behind NHL benches on his resume as well, most notably serving as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks under Joel Quenneville from 2017-2019.
It won’t be easy for Granato to right the ship in Buffalo. But at least he now has the stability of knowing he’s officially the one in charge.