The Buffalo Sabres announced Wednesday morning that they have fired head coach Ralph Krueger.
Assistant coach Don Granato will take over as interim coach. Matt Ellis, their director of player development, and Dan Girardi, a development coach, will help Granato on the bench. Steve Smith, another assistant, was let go.
“It felt right that it needed to be done now,” GM Kevyn Adams said Wednesday. “I think we could talk about could have been done before. For me, this is about results that haven’t been good enough and I look and evaluate everything and I was trying to take a real, honest, fair evaluation, understanding the adversity and the situation our team was in, taking it all into account.
“But it felt like the right time now and this is about all moving forward. This is about, how do we improve? I do believe every crisis is an opportunity for positive chance and this is a chance for us to move forward and to begin to get this thing pointed in the right direction.”
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Through 28 games this season, the Sabres are 31st in the NHL with six wins and a .286 winning percentage. They are currently mired in a 12-game losing streak and have not claimed the full two points in a game since Feb. 23. Krueger was hired in May 2019 and he compiled a record of 36-49-12 in 97 games. The .433 win percentage over that span is the third-worst in the NHL, with only Ottawa (.408) and Detroit (.302) lower.
Krueger was signed through the 2021-22 season and is owed $3.75M, according to Pierre LeBrun.
Two weeks ago Adams said the everyone in the organization was being evaluated. He also used the word “unacceptable” multiple times while talking about the team. It was clear changes were coming, and they likely will not end with Krueger’s dismissal.
Since the sale to Terry Pegula was final on Feb. 18, 2011, the Sabres have the fewest points in the NHL. They have hired and fired five coaches.
Krueger, Botterill, Sexton and Greeley were all under contract through the 2021-22 season.
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) March 17, 2021
Moves in the summer by Adams to improve the team have not worked. The Taylor Hall bet isn’t working out and he’ll likely be traded before the April 12 deadline. Eric Staal is another player likely gone in the coming weeks. Then there’s captain Jack Eichel, who is out injured, possibly for the rest of the season. The losing has worn on him, something he’s expressed publicly. Will this tire fire of a season be the final straw before a possibly off-season trade is explored?
The Ralph Krueger news out of Buffalo is just beginning. It should be a wild few months for that organization.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.