The idea of having Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg take over an NHL bench will have to wait, as the ZSC Lions of the Swiss NLA announced his hiring today. Gronborg has signed a two-year contract with the team. With Gronborg rumored to be linked to the Buffalo Sabres vacancy, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reached out today and was told that the team had not actually interviewed him at all. The Sabres prefer a coach with NHL experience, something that Gronborg has apparently heard from more than just Buffalo. He explained in a text to Vogl:
The main reason that I signed with ZSC, besides being the top job in Europe, is that no NHL team wanted a coach with no prior NHL head coaching experience. … My goal is to coach in the NHL sometime in the future. Just need to get a chance.
Gronborg, 50, has been a coach of Sweden internationally at various levels for nearly a decade. He’s totaled seven World Championship medals (three gold), six World Junior medals (one gold) and even an Olympic silver medal in 2014. While there is obviously a difference between coaching the best Swedish players in the world and taking over an NHL franchise, many have believed he would eventually find work somewhere in North America. That will have to wait, but as Gronborg says himself the Zurich job could be considered one of the best in Europe.
For Buffalo now, one has to wonder where they are leaning for their next head coach. Dave Tippett has already interviewed, and the team was linked to Jacques Martin previously. Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe, who some have speculated could be of interest to the Sabres, also does not have any NHL experience and thus would seem out of the running.