Sabres coaching candidate Rikard Grönborg joins ZSC Lions in Swiss league

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Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg encourages players on the bench, during the match against Czech team during the Karjala Cup back in 2016. (Miroslav Chaloupka/CTK via AP)

The Buffalo Sabres‘ coaching search trudges on but the list of candidates has been reduced by one.

Rikard Grönborg was expected to be in the mix for Buffalo’s vacant spot on the bench, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported, however the Swedish national team coach joined Swiss league team ZSC Lions on a two-year contract.

The team made an official announcement Thursday.

Grönborg has coached many of the NHL’s top Swedish stars at various points over the years but his last experience coaching in North American was as an assistant with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs during the 2004-05 season. Since then he has worked exclusively with the Swedish national program.

The Sabres fired Phil Housley in April after his second season behind the Buffalo bench. After going 25-45-12 in his first year, the team improved to 33-39-10 in 2018-19 but failed to qualify for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season and struggled mightily down the stretch, losing 15 of the final 18 games of the regular season.

“The results in the second half were just not there,” Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said after Housley was let go. “Our fans expect more. We expect more. In the end, I thought this decision had to be made for our organization to move forward.”

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