When Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill met with the media earlier this week, one of the hot-button topics was the status of head coach Phil Housley’s job.
As can be expected, Botterill said that Housley’s job is safe. In reality, that may or may not be the case.
One can’t expect Botterill - or any professional general manager - to come right out and say that he’s considering a coaching change. That’s just not how things work. Either a general manager or owner will say that someone’s job is safe, or they won’t say anything at all.
Imagine how that would sound if Botterill were to say “Yes, Housley’s job is in jeopardy.”
You’re not going to hear that, even if it is the truth. It wouldn’t make Botterill sound very good, wouldn’t make Housley look very good, would cast all eyes on the Sabres’ performance to see just what would push it to the brink, etc.
Whether or not Housley’s job is actually in jeopardy is known by only a handful of people - but what’s said publicly versus what actually ends up happening in the long run may or may not be the same.
Just look at history. (Thanks to Twitter user Husaria for pointing this out.)
On November 2, 2013, then-Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said that then-head coach Ron Rolston’s job was safe. Eleven days later, both Regier and Rolston were fired.
On April 10, 2017, it was said that then-head coach Dan Bylsma’s job was safe. Ten days later, both Bylsma and then-general manager Tim Murray were fired.
And this isn’t just typical in the Sabres organization, either. Just this past January 13, the Anaheim Ducks essentially said that head coach Randy Carlyle’s job was safe. Under a month later - as the Ducks continued to struggle - Carlyle was out of a job.
So what does it mean? Nothing, really. It means we’re in just as much a state of uncertainty as we were before Botterill spoke. Until (if) Housley is fired, we won’t know if his job is in trouble - and if something like that were to happen, it could happen tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, next month, or even after the season ends.
Just keep your eyes and ears open, Sabres fans, and take everything with a grain of salt right now until we see what actually happens.