Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Paul Hamilton of WGR 550,
We had a chance to speak with Sabres GM Tim Murray and new coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday.
Here are some highlights from that.
Cody Hodgson is in Sweden trying to become a better skater. Murray said his agent Claude Lemieux has been sending video updates showing his progress.
Murray said he told Hodgson that he needed to improve his skating and needs to be in better condition.
Murray said a buyout is still a decision.
continue for more on the Sabres...
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Jack Eichel has eaten the wings. He’s met the fans. He’s had tours of the Sabres’ facilities.
The big question is: Has his week in Buffalo convinced him to play in the NHL next season rather than go back to Boston University?
“I still have a lot of people to talk to,” Eichel said Friday. “It’s definitely a tough decision to make. I haven’t been drafted yet, so hopefully after the draft.”
The Sabres will select him second overall June 26 in Florida, and they’ll eagerly await the answer.
“If it ends up that my heart tells me that I want to move on and try to play in the NHL, then that’s what I’m going to do,” he said in HarborCenter. “If my heart says I want to go back to BU, then that’s what I’m going to do.
“There’s pros and cons of both situations. That’s going to make my decision pretty tough. I don’t want to be playing professionally if I want to be back in college with BU. I don’t want be at BU if I prefer to be playing professionally.”
via Dave Hodge of TSN,
Obviously, Dan Bylsma was Buffalo's first choice to succeed Ted Nolan as coach of the Sabres….er, well, second choice…..so the matter of draft pick compensation owed to Pittsburgh wasn't about to get in the way.
But what if Bylsma and another candidate had similar credentials, Bylsma was favoured narrowly and the other prospective coach came with no strings attached? And what if the Sabres decided to take a pass on Bylsma as a result? After all, a third-round draft pick is something of value in every other sense. Teams don't give them away with a shrug of the shoulders.
If the issue of compensation meant that Bylsma did not get the Buffalo job, he'd be justifiably upset. The Penguins would still be paying him, and the Sabres, while having to live with their decision, would wonder why they couldn't sign the best coach available free of charge. In that case, I'm guessing Bylsma and every other coach would push for a rule change, and so would the Sabres. That ought to happen, anyway. Thumbs down to draft pick compensation for fired coaches.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
“I’ve done quite a bit of growing the last year looking at the game, so I plan to bring that to the coach I’ll be with the Sabres,” Bylsma said in First Niagara Center. “There is, I think, a bright future ahead for this team.”
The Sabres insist they are better already because of Bylsma. They conducted on-and-off chats with him for a month before finalizing a reported five-year, $15 million contract.
“We improved today by hiring him,” General Manager Tim Murray said. “His record as an NHL coach speaks for itself.”
Bylsma arrived in Buffalo as the most accomplished coach since Scotty Bowman brought his five Cups to town in 1979. Bylsma went 252-117-32 during six seasons with the Penguins, accumulating a points percentage (.668) that is the best in NHL history among coaches with at least three years of experience.
It takes outstanding players for a team to be that good, and Bylsma had them with the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in the argument for best player in the world, and Pittsburgh’s lineup had other All-Stars while Bylsma was on the bench.
The Sabres believe their young prospects will be just as good. Having someone who knows how to coach and handle elite talent is a plus for the organization.
“I’ve coached star players in Pittsburgh, and that’s going to be the case with the young talent that’s coming to the Buffalo Sabres,” said Bylsma, who repeatedly said it’s just as important to develop a winning environment. “It wasn’t something you had just because you had certain players on your roster. That’s something that we have to immediately get into the Buffalo Sabres’ organization, get into our DNA, get into who we are and how we play, and develop that culture with this group.”
The press conference is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm, watch below...
Press release is below...
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.
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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