Buffalo Sabres fire GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma: Three things to know
Buffalo again will attempt to rebuild after missing playoffs for 6th straight season
In the same offseason that saw coaching swaps from other lowly teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars, the latter of whom, the chase begins for new leadership and the kickoff of another rebuild in Buffalo.
Here are three things to know as the Sabres say farewell to Bylsma and Murray:
Contracts meant nothing in the eyes of a desperate organization
Bylsma still had three years left on his deal with the Sabres, so his departure is abrupt after two seasons. But it isn't entirely unwarranted. Ditto for Murray, who just inked a contract extension in October and yet, as evidenced by his own recent comments about the unclear future of management, was not locked in because of his deal.
The simple truth of the Sabres' situation is that Buffalo has not made it to the playoffs in six years. Bylsma, of course, can only be faulted for two of those seasons after an esteemed run with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the progress -- or lack thereof -- from his Sabres debut (35-36-11) to the sour-ending 2016-17 campaign (33-37-12) was enough to prompt Buffalo to cut its losses.
True or not, word was that Bylsma was unwanted from within
This stems almost entirely from a recent report from WGR 550's Paul Hamilton, which suggested Sabres centerpiece Jack Eichel would not have engaged in contract extension talks in the event Bylsma was still the team's coach moving forward.
Eichel, via his representatives, denied that was the case. But even if the report was largely untrue, it made sense. Why would Eichel -- or any young prospect in the Sabres organization, for that matter -- want to wallow in the perennial disappointment that has clouded Buffalo for more than half a decade? That's not to say Bylsma or Murray were directly responsible for every Sabres shortcoming as of late, but the atmosphere of the team suggested change was inevitable.
The coaching replacement options are intriguing
As Bylsma's short-lived tenure proved, big numbers from previous coaching roles do not necessarily translate to immediate success. (Part of that blame can go to Murray, who was unable to shore up Buffalo's defense in a disappointing 2016-17.) The options for coaching replacements, though, aren't short on names. Dean Lombardi is fresh off his own dismissal from the Los Angeles Kings, and Lindy Ruff is back on the market and might make sense in a Hitchcock-like reunion.
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