1) What. In. The. Blue. Hell. I don’t know where to begin. You can lay to rest the notion that the Pegulas don’t fire anyone. They’ve fired more people than George Steinbrenner, Mr. Spacely, and Vince McMahon. I’m sorry, this seems very bad and kind of embarrassing. How many people since 2011 between both teams have been fired? I counted 8 HCs, 2 GMs, and 2 presidents since 2013. That’s a lot of severance packages.
I always wanted a house cleaning from what Golisano/Wilson had, but not one where you are cleaning up your own mess that the Pegulas started. And on top of that, how in the blue hell is Murray gone, but Doug Whaley is still here? Weird. If it was up to me, I would have tried doing this again with the same coach/GM for the first month of the season and if it didn’t work, fire the coach. Then I would have probably gave Murray the rest of the year to try and get in the playoffs and if that didn’t happen, I’d can him. Alas, Sabres went full blown Scarface final scene with blowing up everything today.
Overall, I wouldnt have blinked twice if they just fired Dan as it seemed to be expected. Did I think he deserved maybe another month to start the season? Sure….but I’m not going to die on that island if you are telling me he needs to go. The Tim Murray firing? Yeah, that looks bad and I’d say Im a little bit against it.
2) Let’s start with Tim Murray. Murray made some questionable moves and I’m sure the usual media suspects who are in bed with the Sabres (See: Jamm and Instigators) are going to do everything in their power to make him look incompetent and maybe that’s true in certain cases. Murray was basically in charge of the Sabres for the last 4 years, but two of them were dedicated to basically trying to suck which any of us could have done. I don’t know, but firing after just 2 seasons of WANTING to be good seems a little too impulsive. It takes at least 3-4 years it would seem for your draft picks who aren’t 1st rounders to get their feet under water in the NHL and Murray isn’t going to see any of that.
3) Another theory I’m kicking around since firing Murray came out of left field is maybe he didn’t want to fire Bylsma and he fought for him. Maybe he took a page out of the Wade Phillips/Ronnie Jones playbook. It just seems crazy he got canned. If my theory doesn’t work, you have to think Murray would have canned Bylsma earlier in the season if he knew his job was on the line. Plus, I’m sure he would have actually traded for guys at the deadline as well. No way you stand pat if your job is on the line.
4) Maybe the Pegulas didn’t feel that attached to Murray cause he was hired by Pat LaFontaine who lasted 5 minutes. Maybe Murray was a little too honest at times in public. Maybe Murray was a little too power hungry? He did lay into his coach pretty badly in a public setting and I know the Pegulas are very cognition of how you approach yourself in public. Plus, the guy did say he was going to name the captain which seemed a little odd since I felt the coach had that say. Maybe he was too big of a micro-manager as his personality does fit that to a degree. I mean, Murray’s uncle was an assistant coach here which you wonder if HE wanted that more so than the coach did.
5) I went over this in my year end bender about what Murray did wrong, but to re-establish… the blue line stunk, the depth on this team wasn’t very good, they might have given up too many prospects in Kane/O’Reilly deals, they gave some shitty contracts to Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis, and their coach/players hated each other. Other than that, everything was peachy. In terms of the prospects Murray dealt who were holdovers from Darcy, we don’t know whether those guys he dealt are going to be any good as right now none of them are doing much of anything in Colorado and Winnipeg. I kind of think most GMs would basically jettison the other GM’s draft stockpile since he didn’t pick them.
6) I don’t have much to say about firing Bylsma. It seemed like he was dead man walking after the Murray presser and when you factor in the Jack Eichel story from yesterday, he may as well have been digging his grave at this point. I was of the mindset to give him another 10-15 games after they tinkered the roster, but the horse seemed out of the barn for him. Plus, with you fire your GM, there’s no way you are keeping the coach.
7) Speaking of players vs coaches, you have to think a lot of that went into the house cleaning. If there’s one thing we’ve seen from the Pegulas, its that they listen to the players. Allegedly, the players complained about Greg Roman (McCoy/Watkins may have complained about him to TP), Rex Ryan at times (Defense was too complicated), Ted Nolan (Didn’t work on fundamentals enough), and now Dan Bylsma (EVERYTHING). Whether it was system, lack of detail, or personal relationships, when the players had issues with their bosses, the Pegulas swooped in with a sword and settled differences in favor of the players.
8) I will fucking breathe fire like I am Daenerys Stormborn’s dragons onto One Buffalo when I hear about any involvement #brandonfinger had with these firings. You know that dipshit had to be at the meetings. How in the world does he and Whaley survive, but we destroy the Sabres front office this quickly? I give up.
9) You guys know “The tank” is going to get brought up as being the reason this happened. As I wrote in my year end piece, the Sabres didn’t make the playoffs because of the moves that happened AFTER the tank, not during it. However, I do wonder if the Pegulas feel a little duped by the turnaround time frame. Maybe they were sold a get rich quick scheme like WGR had pitched us during the tank and they were dismayed at how it wasn’t working as planned. Look, smart fans knew there was A LOT to do after getting McEichel, but there was a narrative out there for that entire tank season how this was all going to change over night. Like I said, firing everyone after just two years seems extreme, but if you listened to how this was “going to change everything over night” hyperbole narrative, then it isn’t as shocking.
10) So where do we go? I think the Sabres need to hire a holy trinity of sorts: Hockey president, GM, and coach. Do what they were supposed to do when they hired Pat LaFontaine, except not break up with him after 2 months. If anything, I think they need to bring in people with experience and have won elsewhere. They haven’t done that since taking over the team, specifically in the management department. Right now they need as much help as humanly possible because it hasn’t work at all since they took over the Sabres. From 2013-2017 the Sabres employed four coaches (Ruff/Rolston/Nolan/Bylsma) and fired all of them. From 1989-2013, the Sabres employed four coaches (Dudley/Muckler/Nolan/Ruff). Four coaches since 2013 is an alarming rate, even by NHL standards.
All isn’t lost as the Sabres do have talent on this roster. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much talent above them and my faith in the Pegulas fixing this is shrinking by the day and house clean.