With their losing streak hitting 12 games, the Buffalo Sabres fired coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday.
The Sabres have the fewest points in the NHL with 16. They sit in eighth place in the East Division, a full six points behind the Devils, who have two games in hand.
New Jersey beat Buffalo 3-2 on Tuesday night. Buffalo’s winless streak matches the third worst in team history and is the longest since Buffalo lost a team-record 14 straight midway through the 2014-15 season.
Buffalo is well on its way to matching the NHL record for missing the playoffs at 10 straight seasons.
Krueger, 61, was in his second season with Buffalo. Last season, the team improved slightly with a 30-31-8 mark but still finished sixth.
This season, star Jack Eichel has missed significant time with an injury, high-priced winger Jeff Skinner has been a major disappointment, and even big free-agent acquisition Taylor Hall hasn’t lived up to the hype. The team also acquired veteran center Eric Staal from Minnesota in the offseason.
The additions have barely made a dent for a team that ranks last in the NHL with 2.07 goals per game and 36 goals in 5-on-5 situations.
Since Eichel came into the league in 2015-16, he will now be skating under his fourth coach and third general manager.
Krueger’s only previous NHL experience was coaching the Edmonton Oilers for 48 games in the 2012-13 season, when they went 19-22-7. Before that, he was coach of the Swiss national team. After his stint with the Oilers, he moved over to soccer and held various front-office positions with English Premier League teams.
Sabres first-year general manager Kevyn Adams said that assistant Don Granato would serve as interim coach and that a full-scale search for the permanent coach would begin immediately.
Krueger is the third NHL coach to be fired during this shortened 56-game season with all-divisional play. He’s the first outside the North Division, which has seen Montreal let go Claude Julien and Calgary replace Geoff Ward with two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Darryl Sutter.
Adams considered taking over behind the bench, but had previously elected not to do so because it would take away from his managerial duties leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline next month.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.