BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A new era has begun in Buffalo, as former assistant coach Don Granato takes over as the new interim head coach. The move comes after the team fired now-former head coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday morning. The team spoke to the media for the first time since the firing Thursday afternoon, and Granato appeared ready to take on the job.
“It’s a challenge and an opportunity and I’m excited for it,” Granato said. “Obviously there was a level of anxiety upon taking the position, accepting the position.”
With morning skate canceled and the game’s status up in the air because of a potential COVID issue, Granato couldn’t spend much time, if at all with his players to try and implement his style. He said he gave them some challenges for the first game to see how the team responds, and they’ll go from there.
“Obviously we need to progress and move forward as quick as we can,” Granato said.
He comes in with the Sabres on a 12-game losing streak. It’s a tough spot for any coach, but Granato said the players have the drive to keep fighting despite what’s been going on.
“They want to be pushed,” Granato said. “They feel responsible for where they’re at.”
As for his expectations of the first game, he simply said he wants them to compete.
“We call it a game, the game of hockey, it’s not, it’s a competition,” Hall said. “Competitive people win out more than non-competitive people. We need to have that type of attitude regardless of any situation. Often that is the difference alone.”
Players also got a chance to speak on the new guy in charge. With how things went with Krueger, there’s a desire to do a good job for Granato.
“We’ve got to do a job for him,” Taylor Hall said. “We weren’t able to do a job for our last coach. We’ve got to find a way to get our game together during this time as well.”
While there is no issue with Granato, the players still weren’t happy to see their old coach go. Taylor Hall expressed sadness over Krueger’s departure.
“I guess a little bit of guilt on the fact that we weren’t able to get a job done for Ralph,” Hall said. Krueger was part of the reason hall signed with the Sabres this past offseason.
“Through no fault of his own we weren’t able to win games for him and now we’re here, so it was a tough day for sure,” Hall said.
Now they want to avoid a similar exit for their new interim head coach.
“We all have to look in the mirror and we all have to do better,” Hall said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. No matter who’s coaching us.”
They’ve lost 12 in a row and the Sabres are looking for any way to turn things around.
“A coach that I think everyone in the room would agree we all really liked was let go and doesn’t have a job anymore because of how we were playing,” Hall said. “We need to find a way to get together and win some hockey games. That’s as simple as it is.”