The Buffalo Sabres have relieved both GM Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma of their duties. This comes just a day after a report that Jack Eichel would not sign an extension with the team if Bylsma remained, though both Eichel and his agent both vehemently denied it. Murray had signed a multi-year extension in October, but after another failed season has now been shown the door. A quote from Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula explains the decision:
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.
Though Eichel admitted that he would work with Bylsma and wanted to stay in Buffalo for a long time, the fact remains that since he took over before the 2015-16 season, the Sabres have gone 68-73-33 and missed the playoffs in both years. Murray has an even longer resume of futility since being hired in January of 2014. Though he did acquire Eichel in the draft, he has also made some questionable decisions when it comes to transactions, including the big deal for Kyle Okposo last summer, and dealing for both Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane who, while good players, have not reached the heights expected of them.
The Sabres will now start a search for a new GM, and some will immediately point to the jobless Dean Lombardi who was just pushed out of Los Angeles as a prime candidate. While the team may go for someone with less experience, Lombardi does come with a successful history and two Stanley Cup Championships. As Buffalo and Western New York fans can attest to, is entirely impossible to predict where the Pegulas will look to fill the vacancy. For the head coaching position, there are several experienced names like Darryl Sutter and Willie Desjardins available, or college coaches like David Quinn (Boston University) and Jim Montgomery (Denver).