The Buffalo Sabres on Friday announced the team hired Don Granato and Mike Bales as assistant coaches. The pair joins assistant coach Steve Smith as members of head coach Ralph Krueger’s staff for the 2019-20 season.
Granato spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks after serving as the associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin during the 2016-17 season.
During his coaching career, Granato spent eight total seasons in the St. Louis Blues’ organization, including one season as an assistant coach for the Blues (2005-06). He also served as the team’s AHL head coach for seven seasons, first with the Worcester IceCats (2000-01 to 2004-05) and later with the Chicago Wolves (2008-09 to 2009-10). In his first season with the IceCats, Granato was the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, awarded annually to the AHL’s most outstanding coach.
Granato began his coaching career in the USHL during the 1993-94 season as the interim head coach of the Wisconsin Capitols. He became head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers the following campaign and led the team to the best record in the USHL in 1995-96 and 1996-97. The following season, Granato moved to the ECHL, where he spent two seasons as head coach of the Columbus Chill before winning the Kelly Cup in his only season as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen in 1999-00.
A native of Downers Grove, Illinois, Granato also has extensive experience as a coach at the national level for the U.S. From 2011-12 to 2015-16, Granato served as a head coach at the USNTDP, where he led his teams to victories at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championship. He was also an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and at the 2014 and 2018 IIHF World Championships.
As a player, he captured an NCAA Championship with the University of Wisconsin in 1990. He spent two seasons in the ECHL with Columbus, posting 90 points (26 goals, 64 assists) in 103 career contests.
Bales joins the Sabres with six seasons of experience as a goaltending coach in the National Hockey League. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native spent the past two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, during which the team recorded an 82-64-18 regular-season record.
Prior to joining the Hurricanes, Bales spent six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2011-12 to 2016-17), winning the Stanley Cup in each of his final two seasons as a member of the Penguins’ staff. Originally hired by Pittsburgh in 2011 as a goaltender development coach, his first two seasons with the team were highlighted by helping to scout, draft and develop Penguins goaltender Matt Murray.
Bales was promoted to serve as the Penguins’ goaltending coach prior to the 2013-14 season. While serving on the team’s coaching staff, he oversaw a four-year span during which the team’s goaltenders posted the seventh-best save percentage in the league.
Bales played 18 seasons of professional hockey as a goaltender. He was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round of the 1990 NHL Draft and appeared in 23 NHL games with the Bruins and Ottawa Senators.