Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Dean Lombardi might be a fine choice for the Sabres, either as a president of hockey operations or the general manger to replace Tim Murray. He's closely tied in with USA Hockey, just like the Sabres are now with advent of HarborCenter. And it's hard to ignore his two Stanley Cups in Los Angeles.
But in the wake of sweeping Murray and Dan Bylsma out the door, what Terry Pegula needs to do is look for the red flags. Too often in the past, the Sabres have ignored them. There's plenty of them around Lombardi that make the 59-year-old far from an automatic choice even though he's perceived to be the quick frontrunner because of his experience
The Kings' two Cups were a result of great goaltending from Jonathan Quick and a bruising style of play that was perfect for the playoffs but would not work in the regular season. And it's quickly gone out of favor in a league built on youth and speed. Would Lombardi be able to adapt?
The Kings, remember, were only third in the Pacific in both Cup years and won in 2012 as a No. 8 seed. They won one or more playoff series in only three times in Lombardi's 11 seasons; three other times, they were first-round losers. After winning their second Cup in 2014, the Kings missed the playoffs in 2015 and this spring. They were knocked out in five games by the Sharks last year. So one playoff win in three years got both Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter their exit papers.
continued plus more hockey topics...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
So after overseeing the unsuccessful Tank and two more seasons of playoff no-shows, Murray was shown the door on Thursday, accompanied by Dan Bylsma, the coach he had hired to oversee what he believed was a rebuild. A day later, Sabres owner Terry Pegula did not do himself or his organization any favors when he dismissed the notion that The Tank ever happened.
“We rebuilt,” Pegula said at a news conference at KeyBank Center.
This is not what Pegula envisioned when he bought the Sabres in 2011. Six years later, Pegula’s investment is in tatters, reduced to a punchline. Under the owner’s watch, some good people have come in and been spit out in short order: Pat LaFontaine, Ted Black, and Ted Nolan being three earlier casualties.
It leaves Pegula in search of an executive to punch the reset button and aim a high-powered hose at a room full of losers. In terms of résumé, ex-Kings GM Dean Lombardi has no competition. Lombardi has two Stanley Cup rings and experience building Los Angeles and San Jose into regular contenders.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Terry Pegula started his first news conference about the Sabres in 3½ years by pointing the finger at himself. The mea culpa was a step in the right direction after going backward for the better part of six years.
"Accountability starts with me," Pegula said. "We are not happy with our season this year, and there are no excuses. Six years ago, I stood here and told the Buffalo Sabres fans that the reason for our existence was to win a Stanley Cup. That is still the truth."
He didn't complete fall on the sword, but at least he showed an understanding that he made some mistakes along the way. He acknowledged that he regretted not participating in the search that led to Tim Murray getting hired and, by extension, coach Dan Bylsma. Both were fired Thursday.
Several times, Pegula outlined the franchise's core values – discipline, character, communication and structure – when hiring executives and coaches and acquiring players. It was a clear sign he wasn't happy with GM Tim Murray and questionable characters such as Evander Kane.
from Leo Roth of the Democrat & Chronicle,
The role Eichel, the team’s brooding 20-year-old superstar, played in the firing of GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma will no doubt be overestimated — and underestimated — by the time the dust settles on this latest fooling-nobody try by drowning owners Terry and Kim Pegula to let everyone know they won’t stand for losing and got it all figured out.
But wherever the truth lies, Eichel has blood on his hands.
The Pegulas, who have acted very amateurish in their opinion-seeking from players they seem to moon over, had to have been influenced by media reports and firsthand knowledge that Eichel, the face of their sunken franchise, wasn’t enamored with Bylsma as coach.
But refuse to sign a contract extension this summer?
The money he’ll be getting could pave a road from Boston to L.A. and certainly smooth over his feelings about the head coach and his pedestrian tactics. And if the Sabres didn’t end their six-year playoff drought next year, Bylsma would be gone anyway.
None of that matters now but one thing remains: Eichel’s new reputation as a coach killer (with GMs as collateral damage).
As the “savior" of the franchise who undercut his coach, threw teammates under the bus and pouted before the media after missing a $2 million bonus by the smallest of percentage points for not finishing in the Top 10 of points-per-game scoring in the NHL, the only way Eichel lives this down is to deliver a Stanley Cup to the starving hockey masses of western New York.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (April 20, 2017) --- Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula has issued the following statement:
“After reviewing the past season and looking at the future of our organization, Kim and I have decided to relieve General Manager Tim Murray and Head Coach Dan Bylsma of their duties. We want to thank Tim and Dan for their hard work and efforts that they have put in during their tenures with the club. We wish them luck. We have begun the process to fill these positions immediately.”
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo News: "Let’s start with this morning then. I talked to your agent and he said you’re hurt by all this stuff. I can imagine if, like you’re saying to me, it’s stuff you didn’t say and it’s being reported that you said it. How hurtful is that and what were you thinking when you starting seeing these things?"
Eichel: "First, when you see that people are writing these things and saying that you said these things, my first thought is where are they getting this information? If it’s not coming out of my mouth and I didn’t verbally say it to you or anybody, then where are you getting this information? Second of all, why are you writing it and trying to back yourself up on it?
"I was just more than anything bothered because I thought leaving Buffalo last week, obviously frustrated with the way the season ended. If I were to do over my press conference at the end of the year, I probably should have shown some better body language. It’s just so fresh in your mind. Mentally, it’s quite frustrating, and it’s quite frustrating for all of us on the team. If I showed that frustration a little bit more than other guys in my end-of-the-year meeting, then that’s how I am. I think my agent said that I wear it on my sleeve, and I do to a point. I’m an emotional guy. When you want to succeed and you want to do well and that doesn’t work out for you, it definitely takes a toll.
"Like I said, I would have liked to have handled my end-of-the-year meeting a little differently, my exit press conference with you guys, but it is what it is. Just hearing these things that people are writing after I have a meeting with Tim and a meeting with Dan, I thought both of them went well. None of anything that I’ve read so far has been accurate of what was said in those meetings with them. It’s a bit frustrating and a bit disheartening because I thought things were heading in the right direction leaving Buffalo. As much as we didn’t have a great year, you’ve got to just look forward to the future. Speaking to Tim and speaking to the Pegulas, just expecting big things for next year. It’s just frustrating to still be dealing with this more than anything."
more Q & A...
from John Vogl of the Bufffalo News,
The report of Jack Eichel saying he has no desire to sign an extension with the Sabres if Dan Bylsma remains coach is “ridiculous,” Eichel’s agent told The Buffalo News.
“I don’t know where anyone is getting these reports, but they are ridiculous in a word,” Peter Fish said by phone Wednesday. “Jack, he left Buffalo, he thought he had a real good meeting with coach Bylsma and a real good meeting with” General Manager Tim “Murray. When he got home to Boston, he was genuinely excited with the thoughts that maybe they’re just a few players away from getting into the playoffs.
“We hope to be having talks with Tim Murray when the time is right here, and like I said before, he’d like nothing better than to bring the Stanley Cup to Buffalo because it’s a great city. They’re a passionate fan base. A lot of fans are a lot like Jack in the way he grew up in his family. So I just don’t know where this is coming from, and quite frankly it’s someone who’s got an ax to grind for some reason who doesn’t know him and doesn’t understand him.”
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
So sometime within the next few days, Tim Murray will hop a plane to Boca Raton, Fla., and the future of the Buffalo Sabres will be set for the start of next season. Maybe even, depending upon the anger level of Terry (and Kim) Pegula, for the next several seasons. The general manager had few definitive answers to give reporters and fans at his news conference on Wednesday because opinions had yet to be gleaned from ownership.
With quarterback scouting missions putting hockey on hold -- who would have ever imagined that when Terry Pegula cried at the sight of Gilbert Perreault in 2011? -- the GM answered questions about the future as best as he could. He simply didn't know a lot of the answers. So when Pegula looks out at his GM through his plastic One Buffalo sunglasses in the coming days, what might he say about Murray and Dan Bylsma?
1. Forge on, Tim and Dan: The coach and GM both have three years left on their deals, with Bylsma owed $3 million per season. Even a bazillionaire like Pegula might be getting tired of paying people not to work. Especially since he just jettisoned Rex Ryan after the Bills' disappointing season. The no-change theory is a good one to start next season with, as Murray needs to give Bylsma a better roster and then have the coach work on his coffee-drinking skills with his players as he said during his presser.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
If Dan Bylsma remains the Sabres’ coach – he is today, though a meeting between General Manager Tim Murray and owner Terry Pegula looms next week – Murray wants Bylsma to be more demanding of his players and also get to know them better.
“We have to make more demands,” Murray said Wednesday at his season-ending news conference. “I have to make more demands of Dan. Dan has to make more demands of players. I personally have to make more demands of myself, and we intend to do that.”
The organization was too loose in its rules and standards, which was one of the many reasons the Sabres missed the playoffs.
“Top to bottom in the organization, we understand it was a very disappointing season,” Murray said in KeyBank Center. “I’m the general manager of the team, so I guess that’s top of the food chain when it comes to hockey. So I stand here and take full responsibility for our position, our standings and how it finished.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Jack Eichel hates to lose. He wishes that hatred was more evident in the Sabres’ organization.
“I think guys want to win,” Eichel said Monday, “but there’s a difference between saying you want to win and actually wanting to win and putting the work in and dedicating your life to it.”
The end of the season has hit Eichel hard. He was still in uniform long after Sunday’s season finale, and he was often short with his answers during Monday’s locker cleanout.
But when he expanded on his thoughts, he said a lot. He was directly asked whether more guys needed to hate losing.
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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