In a move sure to make fans happy, the Buffalo Sabres have fired Jason Botterill as General Manager. He is replaced by Kevyn Adams, the former Senior VP of Business Administration for the Sabres.
The move comes after the Sabres missed the postseason once again, this time in a Covid-19 shortened season. The team has now missed the playoffs in a league-high nine straight seasons, five of those with star center and current captain Jack Eichel.
It’s also an interesting time for a move given that co-owner Kim Pegula publicly supported Botterill as GM as recently as late May.
“He’s our GM. Our plan is to continue with him. I realize maybe it’s not popular with the fans, but we have to do the things that we feel are right. We have a little bit more information than maybe a fan does, some inner workings that we see some positives in,” she said at the time.
The tone was certainly different today, less than a month after her previous statements.
“The decision was made after many candid discussions with Jason during a full review of our hockey operations,” Terry and Kim Pegula said in a joint statement. “We recognized we have philosophical differences regarding how best to put ourselves in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup.”
Botterill first joined the Sabres in 2017 after a successful stint as the Assistant General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In his time with the Sabres, however, he not only failed to guide the team back to the playoffs, but also looked out of place at times in his role. Some of his most notable moves include trading away star center Ryan O’Reilly as well as trading away Evander Kane. Both players were unhappy in Buffalo at the time of their trades. Botterill was also responsible for signing Jeff Skinner to an 8-year contract worth $72 million. Skinner followed that up with one of the worst seasons of his career, posting only 14 goals and 9 assists in 59 games played before the season was halted.
You can’t help but to also wonder what kind impact Eichel had on this move. He has publicly expressed his frustration with the club and disappointment in season after season of losing.
“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated,” Eichel said in May. “You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have gone. I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I’m on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”
Several of Eichel’s teammates have also expressed their frustration with the current situation. Rasmus Ristolainen even went as far as to request a trade from the club last August.
While things will not change overnight, the Sabres certainly seem to be headed in a better direction now with a new GM. They also have a coach in Ralph Krueger who has been supported by the teams Captain, Eichel. Beyond that, by missing the playoffs again this season, they will be in a prime spot to select another game changing player in the upcoming draft. The draft lottery on June 26th will determine what position they will draft in.
For all intents and purposes, this is a great move from the Sabres. Players and fans alike should be excited for what’s coming next from this young Sabres squad.