The firing of Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma came as a huge shock (at least in Murray’s case) to the Sabres universe today. Almost equally shocking was the dismissal of Greg Royce and Rob Murphy, the respective Directors of Amateur and Pro Scouting.
This leaves the Sabres organization in a tough spot. With less than 10 weeks to go until both the 2017 draft, the date at which the team will need to submit their protected list for the expansion draft, and the opening of free agency a few weeks later, Buffalo is without the three men who would have the most influence and control on how the organization approaches these three important events.
We’ll certainly know more tomorrow, as owner Terry Pegula will be speaking to the media at 10am, but for right now this leaves the Sabres with a huge leadership void in management, and plenty of questions to boot.
Who will be leading the search, the Pegulas and team president Russ Brandon, or will they hire a Hockey Czar first who will see things through? How long do they expect it to take? Does the organization have any candidates in mind already? Will they let the GM hire the coach? Will Jack Eichel be promoted to player/coach/GM?
Regardless of who they choose and how they choose them, there are three key dates that the new GM and his staff will need to have circled on their calendar:
- NHL Draft Lottery - April 29
- Due Date for Expansion Draft Protected List - June 17
- 2017 NHL Draft - June 23-24
With the team needing both a new GM and a new head of pro and amateur scouting, not to mention any more minor changes in personnel the new GM will certainly make, the Sabres can’t afford to spend too much time on their decision. With the success of this never-ending rebuild still in doubt, the last thing you’d want to do is hamstring your new staff by only giving them a few weeks to evaluate everyone in their organization and prepare for a pivotal draft.
Look, obviously this is a huge decision that will likely determine the success or failure of the tank/rebuild started by Murray and even Darcy Regier many moons ago. The Sabres have to be better next year, or else they risk a total revolt from a fan base sick of losing and excuses.
They’ve got to get it right. And they have to do it soon.