Winds of Change through Buffalo
March 17, 2021
Photo Credit-- Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News
Buffalo N.Y. -- It was an eventful morning for Buffalo Sabres management as General Manager Kevyn Admas announced that Head Coach Ralph Kruger and Associate Coach Steve Smith had been relieved of their duties.
This decision follows the Sabres 11 game losing streak and a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils last night. During this run, the Sabres had been outscored 47-19, with four of the losses being shutouts.
Kruger was hired in 2019 after the dismissal of Phil Housley. This was Kruger's second NHL head coaching gig after serving as head for the Edmonton Oilers lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Just prior to his tenure as Sabres Head Coach Kruger was the chairman of the Southhampton Football Club in England.
Along with the Kruger, defensive coach Steve Smith was also let go by the Sabres. His defensive core was spotty all season led by former first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, who has the worst plus-minus rating in the league at -27. Smith has been with the team since 2018.
"He is just looking for a fresh voice on the bench," GMKA said in response to the firing.
Don Girando was appointed as the interim coach as management starts the search for a permanent replacement. GMKA would not comment on if Don was being considered for the position.
Don's coaching career with the Sabres started under Housley and has been one of the few constants for the Sabres the last few years. Mike Bales took over as Assistant Coach and former Sabre Matt Ellis, who has worked for the team in player development, was given a spot behind the bench for now.
Under the Pegula ownership, the Sabres are now on their seventh head coach. The slide started in 2011 after Lindy Ruff was fired. Since 2011 the rotating door of Sabres' head coaches has claimed Ron Rolston, Ted Nolan (second terms as head coach), Dan Balysma, Housley, and now Kruger.
The Buffalo Sabres and Girando get their first hack at a team tomorrow as they host the Boston Bruins for the first time this season.