After years of shuffling players back and forth between the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans, there is now a coach making the trip down the thruway.
Amerks head coach Chris Taylor joined the Sabres on Tuesday in an interim assistant coach role while Sabres assistant Don Granato recovers from “severe pneumonia.”
With Taylor working for the big league club, his top assistant Gord Dineen will fill in as the Amerks head coach.
“We wish [Granato] the best and a speedy recovery,” said Amerks captain Kevin Porter after practice on Tuesday. “It’s tough to lose [Taylor], he’s a big part of this team, but Gord is stepping in and we all believe in him.”
There is no timetable for Taylor’s return to the Amerks. The Sabres open the season Thursday in Pittsburgh, while the Amerks begin the year Friday night at home against Syracuse.
“We miss Tails [Taylor] for sure, but Gord– you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference out there,” said Amerks defenseman Zach Redmond. “Everyone was still working hard.”
Gord Dineen joined Chris Taylor’s coaching staff when he took over the Amerks bench in 2017. His style is quieter than Taylor’s, but the Amerks will be the first to admit that Dineen knows how to push the right buttons as a head coach.
“I won’t say it doesn’t matter who is behind the bench because it is different voices, and I’ll be a different voice than Chris, but I’ll be touting the same message as Chris,” said Dineen. “These guys, their approach is so professional and that makes it easy for me to be behind the bench and change my role.”
Dineen’s career in pro hockey dates back to the early 1980s. Perhaps his most memorable moment in the NHL came when he scored the game-winning goal for the New York Islanders in the 4th overtime of Game 7 in their 1987 Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Washington Capitals.