Evaluating the GM
Tim Murray was his usual blunt self during his season ending press conference on Wednesday. Here are some of my thoughts on what the Sabres general manager had to say:
1.) Murray wants a fast, puck possession team
Bravo! Now he needs to fix his roster so its equipped to play that kind of game. I mean, the NHL has become a game centered around speed and transition.
The Sabres lack of team speed was one of their many issues this season. When Nick Baptiste and then Evan Rodrigues came up from Rochester and you watched them play, tell me you didn’t think it was nice to see some forwards who can quickly get up the ice.
The defense corps is largely lacking when it comes to speed and being a weapon in the transition game. Go look at Oscar Klefbom’s goal for Edmonton in their playoff opener with San Jose and then ask yourself how many Sabres defensemen can do that.
2.) Murray said the coaching staff spends too much time in the video room and worries way too much about the other team
He added he’d like to see the coaches get a coffee, sit down and get to know the players. That was a pretty damning assessment and seemed to back up the reports of a disconnect between players and coaches.
Any boss/employee relationship is better off if the parties get along or at the very least, are interested in each others welfare. Early on, we’re hearing that is one of the things Bills players like about their new head coach. Pat DiMarco, who came from Atlanta in free agency, said he was blown away during his visit with the Bills when Sean McDermott’s first question was about his family and not football.
You need to get to know the people who work for you/with you. You might not get along with all of them but you have to make the effort.
3.) Murray spoke with Jack Eichel and promised the Sabres' leading scorer to make the club around him better
I’m sure some of you will shake your head and grumble about catering to a 20-year old but this is what teams do. You want to keep your top players happy.
I was watching NHL Network and they were having a discussion about the Islanders' offseason moves. Elliotte Friedman from Sportsnet said the team still might replace general manager Garth Snow and might make some changes to Doug Weight’s coaching staff. The point was made that they’d like to bring in people who have a good relationship with John Tavares, who will be a free agent after next season, and/or Pat Brisson who is Tavares’ agent. I know Eichel doesn’t have the body of work that Tavares has but the idea is the same. Keep your stars happy.
I figured if the Sabres were going to fire Dan Bylsma it would have happened before Murray met with the media but after what Murray said, Byslma’s future sure seems in doubt. Murray didn’t finish his player exit interviews until Wednesday and won’t be meeting with Terry Pegula until next week. I fully expect Murray to be back for another season but his comments were not a ringing endorsement for Bylsma.
Murray didn’t lay it all at the feet of the coaching staff but it feels like there are a handful of strikes against Bylsma at this point.