BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) – For the better part of 20 minutes, Sabres owner Terry Pegula held court inside of KeyBank Center to address the firing of general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma.
Pegula told fans in 2011 when he purchased the franchise the sole purpose was to win a Stanley Cup. While the results have been anything less than inspiring over the last few years, he said that’s still the goal.
“That is still the truth,” Pegula said. “One team wins the Cup. We expected more this season.”
Three takeaways from the press conference with the team’s owner:
His Own Regrets
“I can tell you I was not involved in the last GM, coach search to a large extent and I regret that move. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
When Pegula bought the franchise, Sabres legend Pat LaFontaine was the director of hockey operations. He fired Darcy Regier and hired Tim Murray in a move to have revolutionary hockey structure. Murray, in turn, hired Bylsma.
That clearly didn’t work out.
Structure & Discipline
This was a recurring theme throughout Terry Pegula’s press conference, and it was clear throughout an 82-game season there was a disconnect between players and the coaching staff.
Pegula referenced “structure and discipline” at least a half-dozen times during his press conference.
“We decided our organization needed more discipline and structure and communication in order to be successful,” Pegula said of the firings” We will move forward with new leadership and compete in the National Hockey League for the coveted Cup.”
But, that response begs the question: If structure and discipline are why this franchise has struggled, why are the owners now having to hire a fourth head coach in six years? If there was discord between the head coach and the locker room, who is to blame for a lack of structure of discipline?
Make no mistake, Pegula shouldered the blame for the shortcomings of the franchise over the last few years, but he admitted to mistakes during his tenure as an owner, as listed above.
As for structure and discipline, Pegula fired back: “That’s how you win.”
— Nick Filipowski (@NICK_WKBW) April 21, 2017
Jack Eichel’s Involvement in Firings
Pegula flatly denied the Sabres lost on purpose. He took issue with the fact Cleveland, as it relates to football, is “rebuilding” while Buffalo “tanked” and lost on purpose for a generational talent.
Make no mistake: The order was given. Regier started the bottoming out, Murray finished it and the franchise was rewarded Jack Eichel with the second overall pick.
Eichel’s input matters, more than any other player in the organization. And, following the report that he didn’t want to sign an extension if Bylsma remained the coach, could have been a tipping point.
Pegula denies Eichel had anything to do with the…