Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula understands that he needs to be held accountable for the struggles of both his teams. Six straight seasons without the playoffs is not a good look, especially for an owner who claimed the Sabres' sole existence was to win a Stanley Cup when he bought the team back in 2011.
Let's not kid ourselves, ownership says that's still the goal, but now it becomes even more far-fetched as the Sabres search for their fifth head coach during the Pegula era.
Discipline, structure, communication and character were the major talking points on Friday and were each brought up multiple times. Pegula says these are the qualities they're looking for in their next head coach, general manager, and organization as a whole.
So what exactly did we learn?
- The Sabres want to hire an experienced general manager who can oversee their hockey operations. Pegula hinted that the GM hire would come first & then together they can evaluate the coaching candidates.
"Experience is going to be key in our search. The plan is to build a stronger organization from top to bottom."
- Jack Eichel had nothing to do with the decision to fire Bylsma and Murray. Pegula has to defend his young superstar, but he was pretty adamant when he said that the reports of displeasure between the coaching staff and Eichel were "a complete fabrication." I'll let you decide what you think about that whole situation.
Pegula did add that he talked to players before making the decision to fire both Bylsma and Murray.
- My colleague Nick Filipowski specifically asked if the Sabres had talked to former Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, which has been speculated and reported since the termination of Murray. "We haven't talked to anybody," Pegula replied. "Put that in the Jack demanded his coach be fired category. It's a pure fabrication."
- Pegula wants to be more involved, and apparently, that was something that was missing these last few years.
"I was not involved in the last general manager or coach search to a large extent, and I regret that move," Pegula said. "That’s all I’m going to say about that."
As I said yesterday, I want the head coaching decision to be something the new general manager decides, but I have no issue with Pegula having some sort of input. The aforementioned quote gives me the impression that there was a disconnect between Pegula and Murray, which clearly didn't end well for either side.
- Is the honeymoon phase over as an owner?
"It's enjoyable. Not winning is not enjoyable, losing is not enjoyable," Pegula added. "We're not in the playoffs, I can tell you that that probably leads back to us needing to get better in the future."
- Is there any timeline on when these hires could happen?
"We're going to move as quickly and efficiently as we can," Pegula answered as the press conference was wrapping up.
This is an incredibly important decision and one that shouldn't be rushed, but that being said, the NHL draft and expansion draft are only two months away and free agency begins a week later -- this is valuable time.