Kukla's Korner Hockey
Both teams were among the NHL’s worst this season and have a lot of questions to be answered. Today, you can’t accurately say either is absolutely on the right track, and in Toronto, Babcock has predicted “pain” for the near future. Both teams have owners who appear to be committed, but don’t have a track record of winning.
How they build and develop their respective organizations will determine whether the pieces they already have turn into anything at all, and whether Babcock made the right choice or blew it by choosing not to shuffle off to Buffalo.
-Damien Cox of Sportsnet on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. Read more on this topic from Cox.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
“People are looking for a smoking gun that doesn’t exist.”
That is how Sabres general manager Tim Murray describes the fallout in Buffalo, after the city’s coachless hockey club finished second in the Mike Babcock sweepstakes to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I’m not upset or anything,” Murray told WGR 550 Sports Radio in a lengthy interview Thursday afternoon. “It was a great process for me. This is my first real shot at doing interviews and hiring my coach.”
from Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News,
This was a crushing blow for Pegula and Co. I'm not going to be phony about it. I was prepared with a column that said Babcock would be huge get for the Sabres and the city, further evidence that Pegula was making Western New York a destination for free agents.
Coming on the heels of the Rex Ryan hire, landing Babcock would have given Pegula the top two coaching free agents in the NFL and NHL. You could have argued that little Buffalo possessed the most dynamic head coaching tandem of any American professional sports city.
This shows that Pegula's money can't buy everything (including a quarterback). I haven't heard the financial details. Maybe the Maple Leafs didn't have to outbid Pegula to get their man. But it certainly looks as though Babcock didn't find the Sabres' situation quite so enticing as Buffalo fans had assumed.
Reports had Babcock turning away from the Maple Leafs as recently as Tuesday. The prevailing wisdom said they were too far away from being a true Stanley Cup contender. They didn't have enough promising young centers, or top players in the pipeline of any sort. They don't even have a general manager in place.
Some felt Babcock would be committing career suicide by going to Toronto, where he would join the long list of coaches and executives who couldn't turn the Laffs around and wound up getting skewered by the media.
As an analyst, based on what we've seen/heard, the prevailing sentiment is Babcock will stay in DET. That appears to be conventional wisdom
But I have to tell you, based strictly on not much more than instincts, I could see Babcock ending up in BUF. Like I said, just a hunch.
If I had to bet big bucks of my own money, I'd probably wager DET. If I could lay down a loonie or twoonie with a big payoff, I'd pick BUF.
-Bob McKenzie via Twitter this morning.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Tim Murray wants to make one thing clear -- he's thrilled that he's likely getting Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in the June NHL draft.
"We love him," the Buffalo Sabres GM told ESPN.com Sunday, one day after seeing the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery in a bit of an upset.
Sure, Murray was disappointed Saturday night after losing the lottery, that's the competitor in him, he doesn't want to lose at anything.
But he's thrilled, as was the likeliest scenario all season, that the Sabres will get a great player in Eichel.
"People took my comments last night as an insult to Jack Eichel, that's the furthest thing from the truth, I love Jack Eichel," said Murray, referring to him saying he was disappointed for the Sabres fans.
“If you can pick 1 or 2, you’re going to choose 1. f you’re going to make a trade and they offer you the best defenseman in the league or the second-best defenseman in the league, you’re going to want the best. Anytime you can get 1 vs. 2 in any walk of life, you’re going to want one. But we came up here with an expectation we’d probably be picking No. 2 and we’re going to deal with it. There’s no issue there.”
Tim Murray, GM of the Buffalo Sabres. More from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
In Tim Murray’s perfect world, the Sabres’ general manager would be good buddies with his coach. They would respect each other, chat often and agree on how personnel decisions should be made. Murray didn’t have that with Ted Nolan, so the GM is looking for a new coach.
Buffalo fired Nolan on Sunday, one day after the Sabres finished their second straight last-place season. There is no timetable for hiring a replacement.
“We both said it’s too bad it didn’t work out,” Murray said in First Niagara Center. “Is it chemistry? Maybe it’s just chemistry. Maybe it’s just two different personalities. You need chemistry on the ice, and you need chemistry off the ice....
The Sabres’ search could be intriguing. While Murray has long been fond of Luke Richardson, a minor-league coach hired by Murray when he was assistant GM in Ottawa, several big names could be available. Detroit’s Mike Babcock, a Stanley Cup winner, is in the final year of his contract but is unavailable until after the Red Wings are eliminated from the playoffs. Boston could fire Claude Julien, another Cup-winning coach.
BUFFALO, N.Y (April 12, 2015) -- Buffalo Sabres General Manger Tim Murray today announced Ted Nolan has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. In addition, Murray also announced Danny Flynn has been relieved of his duties as an assistant coach and the contracts of Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen will not be renewed.
added 8:50pm, GM Tim Murray met with the media, watch velow...
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
For more than a year, Buffalo fans have been dreaming of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. The thought of watching one of them become a superstar in a Sabres jersey made folks shake with excitement. It made the on-ice suffering bearable because of the chance for a limitless future.
It’s no longer just a dream. Either McDavid or Eichel will be a member of the Sabres next season. One will skate out to center ice on opening night as the new face of the franchise.
The team’s last-gasp effort to avoid 30th place came to an end Friday night with a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Buffalo will head into Saturday’s season finale against Pittsburgh assured of drafting first or second in June, a position that will be finalized with next Saturday’s draft lottery.
Though the players were disappointed to finish last for the second straight season, the organization achieved the goal it set back in April 2013. It will build through the draft by landing a generational prospect. McDavid set an Erie Otters record by scoring five goals Friday night, while Eichel became just the second freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
This is the night it can mercifully be over. All of it.
The Tank talk. The fan-on-fan and media-on-media barking. The social media sniping. The late nights at the television or computer screens watching horrific performances from the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers.
Same for the crowds at First Niagara Center openly chanting and cheering for the visiting team, leaving the Buffalo Sabres sullenly shaking their heads in the dressing room about a phenomenon almost never seen in professional sports.
The masses will almost certainly be partaking in that distasteful practice for the fourth straight home game when the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice against the Sabres here Monday. But at this point, 79 games into a lost season, it’s hard to argue.
With one more regulation loss, the Sabres will clinch 30th place in the NHL’s overall standing for the second straight year.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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