Reminder: in hockey, it’s not three strikes and you’re out. If Sunday’s any indication, sometimes you only get two.
The Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Phil Housley after two seasons, giving him the same rope as the Florida Panthers afforded Bob Boughner, who was also canned after two seasons. The parallels continue from there – both the Sabres and Panthers are Atlantic Division teams with heightened expectations they didn’t reach, but also seem to change directions at the drop of a hat – and Sabres GM Jason Botterill has his work cut out for him in getting through another tough patch.
Housley failed to bring the Sabres to the 2018 and 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Buffalo’s continued struggles has clearly left the mood strained for loyal fans. The Sabres went 58-84-22 under Housley, memorably going from first in the NHL briefly this season, to plummeting to the point that the Sabres have the fifth-best (8.5 percent) chance of winning the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery.
That flat finish improves their chances of landing an impact player like Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, but it also cost Housley his job.
Can someone else right the ship in Buffalo? They haven’t exactly found a lot of answers, as this ship has been rudderless basically since they ended Lindy Ruff’s lengthy reign behind the bench.