Success of recent coaching changes should not entice the Buffalo Sabres to cut ties with Don Granato

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t taken a step forward in 2023-24 which has made head coach Don Granato’s seat noticeably warmer.
Apr 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato talks to his players
Apr 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato talks to his players / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

While we have seen several midseason coaching changes in 2023-24 and subsequent success most notably from the Edmonton Oilers and to a degree, the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, we also need to step back and look at each situation individually. For one, the Buffalo Sabres are not in the same position as the three aforementioned teams, a trio that has both age and experience on their side. 

Take the Oilers, for example, who we discussed in passing in an earlier piece. They have made playoff appearances over the previous three seasons plus the qualifying round in 2020. They also accumulated 100-plus points in each of the last two years, so although the coaching switch “worked” for Edmonton, they were already a playoff-caliber hockey team. 

The Wild were also in a similar position, and they have also been a better team since they elected to roll with John Hynes in November 2023. But once again, the Wild were in the playoffs in 2021, 2022, and 2023, and like Edmonton in 2020, the qualifying round. Also like the Oilers, the Wild had 100-plus points in back-to-back seasons.

A midseason coaching change wouldn’t help the Buffalo Sabres

The St. Louis Blues have also been better off following their coaching change on December 12th. And while the Blues didn’t earn a playoff berth the previous season, they were also no strangers to the playoffs during the Craig Berube era. Therefore, St. Louis is yet another team on this list that is either currently succeeding, or has seen recent success in reaching the postseason. 

While it’s true the Buffalo Sabres have gotten progressively better under Granato in 2021-22 and definitely last season, they are nowhere near the aforementioned teams in average NHL experience or age. Buffalo is still either the youngest or one of the youngest teams in the league, depending on who is on each team’s respective roster, and they are also not even four years into what is an extensive rebuilding project. 

So, it would be in everyone’s best interest to give Granato at least these final 35 games, and ideally, at least half of the 2024-25 season. This isn’t to say changes shouldn’t be made to Granato’s staff, however. If the Sabres continue to stagnate from now until April, such changes are necessary. But let’s hold off on calling for the front office to relieve Granato of his duties, because it won’t make the Sabres any better given their current situation.


(Information provided by Hockey-Reference)