Fair or not, it’s difficult to avoid the “inexperience” question regarding the Sabres handing the GM keys to Kevyn Adams.
Keith Jones, Patrick Sharp, and Liam McHugh discussed that subject, along with other Sabres issues, in the latest edition of “Our Line Starts.” While Sharp provided some glowing words for Adams, and Jones expressed optimism about holdover head coach Ralph Krueger, the larger Sabres picture is unsettling.
You can watch and listen to the full “Our Line Starts” podcast in the video above. The episode is also included at the bottom of this post. Here’s the specific clip discussing Adams and the inexperience issue:
Sabres present a colossal challenge for GM Adams, even ignoring inexperience
It’s amusing that Kim and Terry Pegula leaning on “E” buzzwords, especially efficiency, in making this change, being that they’re going with a third inexperienced GM in a row.
Let’s be honest, if there’s an “E” you’d use to describe this Sabres era, it would be “erratic.”
Adams represents the fourth GM the Sabres hired since the Pegulas came into the picture in 2013. Ralph Krueger ranks as their sixth head coach. Both Tim Murray and now Jason Botterill only received three years to make their marks as Sabres GMs.
To be frank, it’s difficult to guess what kind of vision Adams has as GM. In a lengthy discussion with The Athletic’s Tim Graham (sub required), Adams emphasized communication. And, yes, the word “efficient” went around a lot.
But there weren’t a lot of specifics. Just about every team claims that they want to emphasize speed and character, two things Adams did key on.
Adams did indicate that he’ll be working closely with Krueger. There can be some drawbacks to coaches having a lot of say in personnel matters, but considering how disjointed the Sabres are right now, having two top front office members on the same page is a plus.
(Yes, the Sabres are absolutely dealing in small victories right now. That’s what happens when you’re rudderless amid a nine-year playoff drought.)
Can Adams rebuild — not just the roster, but also the front office?
Botterill getting fired and replaced with Adams grabs the headlines. Yet, the Sabres absolutely dismantled their staff, almost top to bottom.
The Athletic’s John Vogl captures how scorched-earth the Sabres “barren” system currently looks (sub required), illustrated quickest in his tweet:
The Sabres have updated their staff list. Seven scouts escaped Tuesday's bloodletting. pic.twitter.com/fcIaQsaBly
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) June 17, 2020
It’s not particularly promising that Adams doesn’t just qualify as inexperienced as a GM. He hasn’t served as an assistant GM, either. He was just promoted to vice president of business administration in September.
To be fair, many of us roll our eyes at NHL teams constantly hiring “retreads.”
Still, this situation makes you wonder if it’s really ideal for a novice. Sabres fans aren’t exactly overflowing with patience right now. Neither is superstar Jack Eichel.
Adams isn’t merely being asked to unearth prospects, or clean up the salary cap. While the Sabres’ messaging hinges on “doing more with less,” they’ll need to restock their front office — at least eventually.
Frankly, I view going short-staffed as short-sighted, at least in the longer term. It’s easy to look at a large staff as bloated. However, a savvy team can save millions merely by investing in an analytics staff that would tell people “No.”
Could a larger analytics emphasis have averted disastrous free agent signings over the years? Possibly. Maybe they could have salvaged more from trading Ryan O'Reilly, if that was unavoidable? It’s pretty easy to see how relatively cheap staff members could save teams millions.
The Sabres do still employ an analytics director (Jason Nightingale), but that doesn’t mean it’s an area of emphasis. I personally believe that is where a team can be more “efficient” than old-school, bigger spending teams.
Sabres at least have time to search for answers
Overall, there are a lot of troubling signs for the Sabres, with the inexperience of Kevyn Adams merely being one of them.
That said, it’s crucial to remember that the Sabres will probably look quite different whenever the 2020-21 season kicks into gear. (Or, gulp, 2021-22? Just 2021, then 2022? We live in uncertain times.)
The key is for important people, particularly the Pegulas, to learn from mistakes. Not even going through a GM search ranks as yet another troubling sign, but maybe inexperience won’t matter as much as some think regarding Adams?
It will be fascinating, and maybe a little frightening, to watch it all play out. Speaking of playing out, enjoy the latest episode of “Our Line Starts” below.
Start-12:45 Breaking down the front office overhaul in Buffalo
12:45-16:35 What will life in the “bubble” be like?
19:10-22:50 Discussion on potential hub cities as the official announcement nears
22:50-34:30 Handicapping some of the major awards
Where else you can listen:
NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports
MORE ON ADAMS, SABRES:
- Sabres fire Botterill, replace him with Adams.
- Looking at the big decisions Adams faces as GM, despite inexperience.
- Aftermath of Botterill firing.
- Sabres’ long-term outlook.
- Reviewing Buffalo’s 2019-20 season.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.