Sabres Fire Murray and Bylsma

by | Apr 20, 2017 | News, NHL | 18 comments

The Buffalo Sabres today fired general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma.

The Buffalo Sabres announced today the firings of general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Byslma. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres owner Terry Pegula obviously decided the Sabres rebuild wasn’t heading in the right direction under Murray’s management and Bylsma’s coaching. Rather than building toward future playoff contention, the Sabres ended the season mired in controversy.

It was apparent the Sabres’ rebuild stalled this season. There was talk of a disconnect between the coaching staff and the players. Rising star Jack Eichel was openly critical of the club’s performance, slamming several teammates for their sub-par play in a season-ending interview with reporters.

A report yesterday claiming Eichel wouldn’t re-sign with the Sabres as long as Bylsma was head coach (which was swiftly denied by the center and his agents) may have been the last straw for Pegula. He will be looking for steadier hands in the front office and behind the bench.

Those hirings could come quickly. The Sabres must prepare not only for the annual NHL draft (June 23-24) but also prepare their list of protected players for the expansion draft by June 17.

One management option could be former Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Coaching options could include Jack Capuano, Michel Therrien or former Sabres bench boss Lindy Ruff. 


  1. Well, that’s the way to do it if you deem it necessary to go down that road. That’s what they should have done in Vancouver and Dallas and L.A. as well if the owners/presidents had any brains.

    Be interesting to see who the Sabres pick to run their show and who he, in turn, picks as his coach. I imagine the assistant coaches will be history as well.

    • Oops, forgot L.A. had also canned Lombardi. I wouldn’t go there if I were Buffalo.

      • It really would have been something to see the inter-play with the media had Buffalo retained Murray and he, in turn hire Sutter. Then you’d have one-syllable answering Murray and “grunt” Sutter at the press scrums. Jaysus!

  2. Interesting times in Buffalo – looks like Mike Babcock made a good decision. It will take a strong GM to deal with Sabres’ ownership – and a strong coach to handle their current roster. Maybe Jack Eichel and his agents have people in mind LOL

  3. I really hope Eichel had nothing to do with this, not that media will care either way.
    You can not have a young player try to control an entire franchise ala LeBron, however, LeBron had championships and beast seasons before he had tha kind of control

  4. The optics of this look terrible considering the rumors, videa & info flaoting around. Never liked Bylsma so don’t care.

    Murray was hired on January 9, 2014. Just completed year 2 of the rebuild. Cam in mid season put Buffalo in a position to draft Reinhart & Eichel, has banked a ton of picks along the way.

    Traded for O’Reilly, Lehner, Kane & a few lesser lights. Signed the best & youngest UFA this summer in Okposo & has drafted very well.

    Not a Sabres fan but it’s 5 years min to rebuild a team generally tearing it down. Murray was shown the door after 3 but again started mid season inheriting someone else’s mess; Regher’s in year 1. Harsh & sends a terrible message.

    Buffalo is 1 year away from becoming a very good team. 1 solid Dman away from being a playoff team. Another GM gets to ride in & scoop up Murray’s efforts.

    • this is spot on Striker, I for one thought Murray did a great job

    • Murray did nothing that any fan couldn’t do and plenty a knowledgeable fan would never do. He drafted exactly the player everyone knew would go in that spot and he wrote a big check for an FA. BFD. He didn’t do a thing at the deadline to sure up a hideous d crops and didn’t move pieces Buffalo won’t be signing like Kulikov so he’ll walk for nothing. Jimmy Vessey wasted 3rd rounded yet another sign of his total incompetence. He deserved to be fired as he was totally useless and in way over his head and the Pegula’s recognized that.

    • pretty sure that’s what you said last year as well Striker… seems like every fall it’s the same thing the past couple years with the Sabres “this could be the year they take a step…” then it’s the same thing. Now the once young team has given away Armia Lemeuix Zardov Grierenko Compher Flynn Myers 1st round pick 2nd round pick 3rd round pick…. I’m not sure the results justify the cost.

    • I think this year was a disappointment, but in the end I think this was a bit early to judge a tear down and rebuild. I just think the owners are looking at things as if they should be where the Leafs are, but it’s not as if the Leafs situation is something you can bank on.

      The Leafs had a 1/5 chance to get Matthews, and about a 50% chance of ending up with Puljarvi or Dubois instead.

      They did inherit Gardiner, Reilly, Kadri, JVR, Brown, Bozak, which as a group did provide some stability and value.

      They made some timely moves, and didn’t rush anything, but they could just as easily be years behind where they are without it being because of mismanagement.

      The Sabres went after the same coach, did make good trades (in terms of talent) for O’Reilly and Kane. O’Reilly is an excellent addition to the team, and Kane is just infuriating because of how much talent he has, and would have been worthwhile if he was Tyler Seguin esque is in his off ice growth (or at least keeping it to himself and not being a cancer)

      Instead of getting a more talented version of a Wayne Simmonds (or less talented Ovechkin), they get a high maintenance distraction. It seemed worth the gamble, but I think they lost the gamble so far.

      I think the locker room mess is part of the problem, and these changes giving off the perception that the players are both entitled and coddled will give the next group a difficult task. Whether this perception is overestimated, underestimated or exactly as it appears is almost irrelevant as the fact that it exists will be damaging regardless of the truth.

      This isn’t to say that things can’t get better, but if there is no mess, a mistake was made in the firings. If there is a massive mess, then the Sabres are further behind than expected and if you don’t give the next regime longer than this past one, it won’t likely improve.

  5. Completely agree. A GM should have a minimum of 4 or 5 years at the helm when starting in a complete rebuild. The Pegulas fired him way too soon and whoever the next GM is will benefit from his drafting and retooling. Like any GM, some of his moves were questionable/bad (Lehner trade/Moulson signing), but he did a lot of good things in 2 years such as the O’Reilly trade, signing Okposo and positioning the team to get Reinhart and Eichel.

    Bylsma being fired seemed inevitable and it looks like the roster significantly underachieved. A player shouldn’t dictate a coach or GM being fired though and the Pegulas will likely have a hard time finding highly experienced GMs/coaches because of the perceived over-reaction.

    • Perhaps Pegula wanted Bylsma out and Murray argued against it because of the optics following the Eichel rumour about not wanting to re-sign if Bylsma remained. Of course he and his agent publicly denied it but what they can’t deny is his scathing criticism of some of his teammates and so, where there’s smoke there’s fire. If that’s the case, then I don’t blame Murray for refusing to can his coach since that would send out a clear signal that the hot-shot is now calling the shots.

  6. Murray did nothing for player development. His team in Rochester is a mess, he has no organizational depth and did not “win” one trade.

    as for Babcock making the right move, he is 10X the coach Bylsma is. he would have done better just like he has in Tronna

    • I think the O’Reilly trade is a clear win. Didn’t like the Kane and Lehner trades (from a Buffalo perspective) though. Bogosian is a terrible contract and Kane is not getting what someone of his skill should get in a trade due to off-ice issues.

  7. I’ve been a critic of Murray for a while. Other than his brevity in announcing draft picks, I don’t see where he did anything good. Firing him is a fine idea.

    Dan is a one trick pony. No issue getting rid of him.

    But Terry Pegula’s response to Eichel’s tirade shouldn’t be “Yes, Mr. Eichel.”

    Work behind the scenes and make the announcements next week. Eichel now knows that he runs the team.

  8. lets note all the failures….some missed. matt moulson at 5 million per year for 5 years…hes pathetic 5 on 5 and on the baords and playing 4th line duty. trading pysyk a former 1st round pick and losing kulikov after one year. trading tyler myers for zac bogosian who has been a banged up, poor passer, poor stick handler, not using his big body on defense defenseman for 5 million per year….his contract will keep running. the zac kassian trade for hodgson was on regier but murray bought out hodgson who was more valuable than moulson to me. signing a thug like cody mccormicj who played less than 20 games in past 3 years for 1.5 million per year. tading away neuvirth and allowing chad johnson to walk as ufa and trading 1st round pick of Colin White to Ottawa for lehner…..what is murray smoking? a first rounder for a back up goalie at best….heres to you uncle murray in ottawa. trading mcginn for a 3rd round pick in 2006. not picking ivan barbashev in 2005 draft round 2 and taking Lemieux who never wanted to play in buffalo. Barbashev is playing top line center in st louis playoffs due to injuries and thriving. Not sticking to picking Konecky with pick in 1st round and trading for Lehner. Konecky was a pinball in Philly this last year. Playing derek grant who never scored a nhl goal in over 40 games this past year….all 4 lines must contribute….Legwand might have returned for a million and been a better option. Cole Schneider trade for Varone…..varone has better skill even if just an AHL er. not covincing babcock enough to choose buffalo over toronto. bylsma…enough said. firing ted nolan who gets more out of players than bylsma could recognize. making girgensens into a nobody after ted nolan made him buffalos best player 3 years ago. firing the trottier assistant coach staff and bringing the bum coaches they had this past year in….ugh. not making the deal when boston offered spooner for chris stewart. not trading kulikov, franson and gionta at last trade deadline for picks. if tim murray were playing baseball he played a nine inning game with alot of strikeouts. nylander, eichel and reinhart were no brain picks. other than those guhle was only worth mentioning. trading mcnabb on defense for slow fasching who may never make it….although i appreciate deslauriers hard play who came over in that trade. however the defense is where buffalo has been hurting so i mention the mcnabb trade. not allowing chad johnson to resign as number 1 with ullmark as his backup in 2016 and choosing unproven lehner. i just hope the pegulas didnt give murray too much of a leash to do what brian burke did to toronto that took them so long to bounce back from. without a signing of a shattenkirk or trade for fowler or a deal of that magnitude on defense and an equal shot for ullmark to be number 1 in net in 2017 i see this rebuild in extended mode. murray rushed it. you can never underestimate the quality of youth and speed….pittsburgh is proving it with a weak defense. rebuild means time and patience not trading the farm for unprovens or for some other teams problem children that still have promise. compher showed great progress in colorado this year and i still believe zadorov has top 2 defense potential. oreilly is a great 2 way center but buffalo has traded the farm for single players in return. no one player wins a game, no one player gets the team to the playoffs and no one player is worth trading your future away for….hence the nfl herschel walker deal that helped build the dallas cowboys in return of youth that took time to develop but brought super bowls to dallas and bad seasons of loss for minnesota from that trade for one star player. ive said my piece….today after the firings i believe mr pegula has been reading my articles here.

  9. The Pegulas are clueless when it comes to managing sports franchises (hockey & football). They almost had it right when they hired Lafontaine as team Pres but when he butted heads with Pegula’s “cronies” he got the axe. They need to hire a hockey czar to oversee all hockey decisions so that the Pegulas can do what they do best – write the checks.

  10. This season was necessary for the Sabres to trend upward and participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Murray’s failure to participate at the trade deadline was his undoing. The Sabres were in the hunt, were a defenseman, a goal scoring forward, and a rental goaltender away from making a legitimate run. Acting like Darcy Regier was unacceptable.

    Bylsma failed to coach the team to win. First, you do not coach the team to camp out in the zone, allow the most shots against in the league, and allow four or more goals a game. Second, you cannot win games without scoring, Too many skaters who can score goals did not score enough and cannot be considered goal scores.

    The Sabres made a wise move separating from underachievers. The next general manager and head coach will be chosen based on winning.