BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula is now looking to hire his fourth head coach and second general manager since purchasing the team in 2011. On Thursday the team announced that both Head Coach Dan Bylsma and General Manager Tim Murray have been relieved of their duties with the club. Bylsma finished with a 68-73-23 record as the Sabres head coach, while Murray failed to make the playoffs since joining the club in 2014.
The Buffalo Sabres have fired both General Manager Tim Murray & Head Coach Dan Bylsma @WKBW— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) April 20, 2017
Quite frankly I'm shocked.
Not so much about Bylsma, the writing was somewhat on the wall, but more about the decision to get rid of Murray. Of the two moves the Murray termination will be faced with more scrutiny from the fans, but at the end of the day, he deserves a share of the blame.
Yes, Murray swung some nice trades but the Sabres roster was built with too many flaws. They have top end talent and some nice pieces in place, but their lack of defensive depth and contributions from their bottom six forwards was startling. Sure, Bylsma could've done a better job, but he didn't have the most talented roster either.
Murray took the blame last week when addressing the media for what would be the final time when he said: "I'm the general manager of the team so I guess that's the top of the food chain when it comes to hockey. So I stand here and take full responsibility for our position, our standings, and, how it finished."
When he took over the club fans instantly fell for Murray. He was the complete opposite of longtime GM Darcy Regier, who fans often viewed as someone who was too conservative. Murray was anything but, making blockbuster trades to acquire forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane. Maybe he won the trades, maybe he didn't, but no one can accuse Murray of being too conservative.
So help me if the #Sabres hire Lindy Ruff— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) April 20, 2017
I wouldn't be surprised if Murray lands another job down the line. There was a lot to like about his time with the Sabres, but in the eyes of the Pegula's the bad outweighed the good.
As for Bylsma, over the past few months there has been plenty of speculation about friction between the coaching staff and some of the players including Eichel, and while no one on the team has said anything publicly, the Pegula's surely don't want to take any chances.
The most notable denial of any bad blood came just hours before the coaching change when both Eichel and his representatives denied reports that the 20-year-old wouldn't sign an extension as long as Bylsma was coaching the Sabres.
"I want to be here for a long time," Eichel told John Vogl of the Buffalo News on Wednesday. "That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I don’t want anybody to think that I want to be somewhere else. I want to be here, and I want to help this team win in any way that I can do that. I just want all the people there to know that."
Eichel's agent Peter Fish echoed his client's comments over the phone with 7ABC on Wednesday and said: "Jack would like nothing better than to bring a Stanley Cup to the City of Buffalo and the fans there."
But this isn't just about Eichel -- Paul Hamilton of WGR 550, who first reported the friction between Eichel and Bylsma also has been told that the second year Sabre isn't the only player who has a problem with the coaching. That's something the Pegula's don't have to worry about anymore.
So what happens next? Your guess is as good as mine, but I will say this -- hire the general manager and let him chose the head coach. It should be his call, not ownerships. If it isn't we might find ourselves in this same boat in a few years.
Quote from my friend I'm traveling with: "They better not hire Darryl Sutter, this team is already super boring to watch"— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) April 20, 2017