Skip to content

Thompson wants Sabres' new coach to bring accountability, consistency

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

Buffalo Sabres star Tage Thompson thinks his team's new coach needs to bring two core concepts to the table: accountability and consistency.

"There needs to be repercussions - whether it's being benched or in the press box - if you're not playing winning hockey," he told reporters during his end-of-season availability on Wednesday. "I think, at times, you could see that we were a great team, and other times we were too casual. I think that's something that's gotta be instilled in us. ... That's something I don't think we had enough of this year."

"I think a lot of times this year, we got away with some stuff that we shouldn't have gotten away with," he added. "I think if you clean those things up, then it sends a message."

The Sabres fired Don Granato on Tuesday after they failed to make the playoffs for the 13th straight season. Many expected Buffalo to end that drought this campaign, but the young team fell short of those lofty expectations, finishing eight points outside of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Thompson made it clear that he has "nothing but respect and admiration" for Granato. The bench boss moved the 6-foot-6 forward to center when he took over the reins three years ago, which prompted his 38-goal breakout season in 2021-22.

Since making his debut in 2017-18, Thompson has played under three different head coaches: Phil Housley (2017-19), Ralph Krueger (2019-21), and Granato (2021-24).

"I would like to say that each time, it kind of lights a fire under you because it shows you that you're replaceable," Thompson said. "That's kind of the business you're in. So, hopefully, the response is intensity. I think comfort can be the death of you, and I think we were a little too comfortable this year."

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin echoed Thompson's wishlist in a new head coach, adding that they need to be "pushed hard."

However, the team's probable next captain believes the players themselves are better equipped to handle the pressure of growing expectations.

"In that way, this year was good for us," Dahlin said. "We weren't really prepared and ready as a group for what it meant, really. That was a big learning lesson. ... Going into next year, we're very prepared for what it means."

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox