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Don Granato hires two new assistant coaches, retains Matt Ellis in Sabres' bench shuffle

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Granato behind the team (copy)

Sabres head coach Don Granato.

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Buffalo Sabres coach Don Granato has shuffled his staff for his first full season behind the bench with a series of announcements made by the team Thursday.

Here's the rundown:

• Former Sabres player Matt Ellis, who came on to the bench on an interim basis when Granato was hired, will stay on as a full-time assistant coach after previously serving as the organization's director of player development.

• Jason Christie and Marty Wilford have been hired as new assistant coaches. Christie is the ECHL's all-time victory leader as a head coach with 667 with five teams, the last four years coming in Jacksonville. Wilford spent the last three years as an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks.

Christie's last season as a player was in 1999-00 for Peoria – which Granato coached to a Kelly Cup playoff championship. Christie had 21 goals, 56 points and 199 penalty minutes that season and was the league MVP in the ECHL playoffs. Christie then took over for Granato as Peoria's coach the next season and led the Rivermen to four playoff berths in five years before moving on to lead Utah, Ontario and Tulsa.

Prior to his time in Anaheim, Wilford was as an assistant coach with the Ducks' AHL affiliates in San Diego (2015-18), Norfolk (2012-15) and Syracuse (2011-12).

"In Marty and Jason, we’ve added two quality people and coaches to our organization," Granato said in a statement. "Their experience at multiple levels of pro hockey will be crucial as we implement our vision for this team."

• Ex-Sabre Adam Mair will take over Ellis' role as development director. Mair spent last season as an assistant under Seth Appert in Rochester.

• Assistant coach/goalie coach Mike Bales and video coach Myles Fee will stay on in their roles. Interim assistant coach Dan Girardi will return to a development role and Justin White has been hired as video coordinator. White has spent the last three years in Rochester as assistant video and analytics coordinator.

"We are also excited to bring back Matt Ellis, Mike Bales and Myles Fee, and add Justin White to our group to continue building on the progress of last season. I’m confident in the passion and intensity they will all bring to the rink each day and their ability to get the best out our players and team.”

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Sports Columnist

A News staffer since 1987, I'm a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, a 2013 inductee into the Buffalo Baseball HOF and the Buffalo chapter chair of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. And I insist only Chicago & New York can come close to Buffalo pizza.

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