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The Buffalo Sabres announced the firing of general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday amid the team’s stalled rebuilding efforts.
Buffalo made the changes official on its Twitter feed. Sabres PR provided a statement from team owner Terry Pegula:
Sabres PR @SabresPR
Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula has issued the following statement: https://t.co/LYR6wgUSN6
4/20/2017, 2:20:38 PM
The Sabres were expected to turn the corner during the 2016-17 campaign after an extended rebuild (six consecutive playoff-less seasons). It didn’t happen, as the club finished with a 33-37-12 record for 78 points, three fewer than last year.
Paul Hamilton of WGR reported Wednesday that Jack Eichel, the team’s star center and likely future captain, had “no desire to sign a contract extension this summer if Bylsma remains the coach,” which added intrigue to the franchise’s season-ending meetings.
The second overall selection in the 2015 draft downplayed those remarks in a conversation later Wednesday with John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
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?
Nevertheless, the Sabres opted to clean house.
Bylsma becomes the second head coach fired by Pegula in the past five months. He also owns the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and let Rex Ryan go in December after the Bills failed to qualify for the postseason for the 17th straight year.
Meanwhile, Murray employed an aggressive tank-based strategy after taking over the GM role in 2014. While the plan successfully landed building blocks like Eichel and Sam Reinhart, his failure to build a defense around those blue-chip offensive players cost him his job.
David Quinn is one name to watch as the Sabres begin to research coaching options. He was Eichel’s head coach at Boston University during the forward’s single season at the collegiate level and could give Buffalo a better chance at locking their most prized asset into a long-term extension.
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