In 2014 Pittsburgh Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill was a finalist for the GM job in Buffalo. That was ultimately given to Tim Murray, but as they say, good things come to those who wait.
On Thursday, after nearly a three-week search, Botterill was named the eighth general manager in Buffalo Sabres history.
“We are very happy to welcome Jason Botterill to the Buffalo Sabres family,” owner Terry Pegula said. “Jason’s hockey knowledge, experience drafting and developing players, and his approach to management stood out to us during our interview process. Jason has built a solid reputation as a leader that connects strongly with players and staff around him. We are confident he will have a positive impact within our organization and will help us get to our ultimate goal.”
Congrats to Jason Botterill on his new venture as the Sabres GM. He was a integral part of the Pens over the past 10 yrs. We wish him well.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 11, 2017
Botterill, 40, has spent the last ten seasons in Pittsburgh and helped construct two Stanley Cup winning teams. Before joining the Penguins, Botterill worked for the league and handled arbitration hearings and salary cap issues. He also served as a scout for the Dallas Stars during the 2006-2007 season.
While in Pittsburgh, Botterill climbed the ranks quickly, starting as a director of hockey administration in 2007. Two years later Botterill was named an assistant general manager.
In 2014 Botterill served as Pittsburgh's interim GM and was a candidate for the job permanently, but the Penguins hired Jim Rutherford instead. Despite missing out on the GM job, Botterill was named an associate general manager and has remained in that position for the last three seasons.
The Penguins official website says this about Botterill:
"Botterill helped build Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup-winning squad as Assistant GM and saw Pittsburgh capture the Cup again as Associate GM in 2016.
Before his management days, Botterill spent eight years playing professional hockey in the AHL and NHL, including four seasons in the Sabres organization. In 88 career NHL games, Botterill finished with five goals, nine assists, and 14 points.
Botterill will replace Tim Murray who was fired in late April after the Sabres failed to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Murray took over the GM duties in January of 2014 and signed a contract extension with the Sabres in October of 2016.
Botterill will be formally introduced at 4 p.m. today.
This is a great hire. It may have taken a little longer than we initially thought but from all accounts, Botterill is worth the wait.
Hearing the same as Dregs. Love this hire by the Sabres. Botterilll has earned this opportunity. https://t.co/NBwXW6T02o
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 11, 2017
A month ago I didn't know much about Botterill. But after talking to some former teammates and those who cover the Penguins, it's hard not to think this is a smart move by the Pegula's.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) May 3, 2017
Everywhere this guy goes he seems to win -- and his success at both the NHL and AHL level speak for itself. Yes, this will be his first gig as a GM and that makes this a whole new ballgame, but he's spent a lot of time with some really well-respected people in the hockey community and that makes me, and his peers think that he's ready.
"If it wasn't for the kids and the coach [Mike Sullivan] coming from Wilkes-Barre, they [Penguins] wouldn't have won the cup last year," WTAE Sports Director Andrew Stockey said over the phone last week. "Even though you don't see him [Botterill] and hear much about him, clearly his footprint and his imprint are on the team and he's somebody who actually believes in building from within."
"His track record really precedes him, he's done a fantastic job wherever he's been, especially now in Pittsburgh," former Sabres teammate and hockey analyst Martin Biron said on the phone last week.
Those quotes are surely music to Sabres fans ears. Botterill will now be tasked with his most important decision -- finding the Sabres next head coach. Will he go with a veteran guy who has been around for years or perhaps a young up-and-comer?
That'll likely be one of the first questions he's asked at his introductory press conference. Hopefully, he's privy to talk about it.