BOSTON – New Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger is expected to retain Steve Smith on his coaching staff for next season and has apparently settled on the first new member of the staff as well.
Mike Bales resigned as goaltender coach of the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday morning and is expected to take the same position with the Sabres, two sources confirmed to The Buffalo News here prior to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Sportsnet and the Athletic have also reported that Bales is making the move although the Sabres have yet to confirm it.
Bales, 47, has a longtime connection to Sabres GM Jason Botterill. He worked as goaltender development coach, amateur scout and then goaltender coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2011-2017. He won two Stanley Cups with the Pens and was considered instrumental in molding rookie Matt Murray's rise to the top of the league in 2016.
Bales was let go by the Penguins following their 2017 title as Marc-Andre Fleury left for Vegas in the expansion draft and was quickly scooped up by Carolina, where he spent the last two years.
Bales was a key to the Canes' success this year under first-year head coach Rod Brind'Amour. Carolina used a two-headed goalie system with veterans Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney and got all the way to the Eastern Conference final before losing to Boston.
"When I took the head coaching job it was real easy for me to just let him run with the goalies," Brind'Amour said during the East final. "I don't even know what he does with them. He takes them, he does his own thing. He has his meetings, and then we talk about who goes in net and he tells me who he thinks should go, and I would say 99 percent of the time this year it's the guy I was going to go with."
Bales, who attended Ohio State, was a fifth-round draft choice of the Boston Bruins in 1990. His NHL career in goal consisted of one game in Boston in 1993 and 22 with Ottawa from 1995-97. He spent several years in the minors and overseas and retired in 2006 after a stint in Germany.
Bales was signed as a free agent by the Sabres in 1997 and played 38 games for the Rochester Amerks in 1997-98, posting a 13-19-5 record while splitting the net with Martin Biron.
Smith, a three-time Stanley Cup winner who came to Buffalo last year on Phil Housley's staff, also worked with Krueger in Edmonton in 2013. The Sabres have not officially announced any deletions from Housley's staff but holdover assistants Davis Payne, Chris Hajt and Andrew Allen are not expected to be retained. Allen had been the goalie coach under both Housley and Dan Bylsma.