Sabres owner Terry Pegula will address the media tomorrow morning — and, boy, will Buffalo reporters have some questions for him.
Pegula cleaned house today, firing general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma.
The moves came after Pegula met with Murray, who’d just held his own press conference last week.
Murray had hinted that ownership may demand changes.
“There’s going to be a review, top to bottom,” he said. “I have to meet with ownership next week in Florida. I’m sure I’m going to be reviewed. I’m sure I’m being reviewed right now, as I should be.”
Still, today’s announcement came as a surprise. Most observers felt that perhaps Bylsma would be relieved of his duties. But Murray as well?
To be sure, Murray has made his share of mistakes. He was the one who hired Bylsma, and clearly there was a disconnect between the coaching staff and players.
“I think the players have legitimate gripes about the coach,” Murray conceded. “I think players have legitimate gripes about the way our team is built, and I think the players have gripes that aren’t legitimate and are excuses.”
Speaking of the way the Sabres are built, Murray’s biggest roster failure was the defense, and that’s no easy thing to fix overnight. Whoever succeeds him, the blue line will be arguably the biggest challenge.
But the new GM will also have to return a sense of calm and cohesion to the organization. The way Murray described things last week, the GM was not on the same page with the coach, the coach was not on the same page with the players, and the players were one frustrated bunch, including young star Jack Eichel.
Expect Pegula to get asked about Eichel — especially in the wake of yesterday’s report that the 20-year-old wanted Bylsma gone.
Because, today, Bylsma is gone.
So, how much did Eichel have to do with with that?
If Pegula’s smart, he’ll shield his young star and say it was 100 percent ownership’s decision, that there were other reasons for the firings, nothing to do with Eichel. No need for the face of the franchise to be painted as a guy who gets people fired.
Anyway, it should be an interesting morning in Buffalo.
Pegula must be getting pretty used to these things by now.