On and off the ice, the Buffalo Sabres have never been at a lower point in the history of their once-proud franchise than right now.
The embarrassments that have happened to this organization, all tying back to their current playoff drought – which could equal the NHL record for the longest in league history next season – proved to be too much for Terry and Kim Pegula to take, especially after they announced three weeks ago that Jason Botterill would stay as general manager after three tumultuous seasons. So Botterill was shown the door on Tuesday and replaced by longtime Pegula Sports and Entertainment executive (and Buffalo native) Kevyn Adams.
Adams, a 10-year NHL veteran and Stanley Cup champion with the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes, has spent the last several years in a multitude of roles for the Sabres and the Pegulas, including assistant coach to Lindy Ruff, general manager of the HarborCenter and senior vice president of business administration. Additionally, the Sabres also fired assistant GMs Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley, director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski and most of the teams’ pro and amateur scouts, plus Rochester Americans coaches Chris Taylor, Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen.
Given Adams’ lack of experience in NHL hockey operations, no one quite knows what his plan of attack for rebuilding Buffalo’s front office and roster consists of. What we do know is that there was no question that Botterill wasn’t the right man for the job.
Sure there were some shrewd acquisitions by his staff – namely the drafting of Rasmus Dahlin and trades for Jeff Skinner, Henri Jokiharju and Dominik Kahun. But unfortunately, Botterill’s resume with the Sabres was filled with more misses than hits. There were multiple players whose worth on the open market were miscalculated in trades (Evander Kane, Marco Scandella), prospects whose developments were botched (Casey Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson), puzzling callups from Rochester (Dalton Smith), overpayment on pending free agents (Skinner) and baffling trades that made no sense (Ryan O’Reilly, Michael Frolik and Wayne Simmonds). Not to mention poor usage of guys like Marcus Johannson, Lawrence Pilut, Colin Miller and Victor Anitpin, and an awful coaching hire right out of the gate in Phil Housley.
Those are just a few of Botterill’s mishaps. I suppose one could argue that given another year or two to see his plans go through, that there was an outside chance – however unlikely – that Botterill may have been on to something. But with 13 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on his hands, and new contracts for Sam Reinhart, Victor Oloffson, Linus Ullmark, Montour and Kahun looming, could anyone have realistically trusted Botterill to use the oodles of salary cap space he would have had available to him wisely?
I doubt it. And apparently so did the Pegulas.
With Adams now becoming the ninth GM in Buffalo’s history, the pressure to snap the playoff drought on him, his new front office hires and coach Ralph Krueger will be enormous. Given that Adams and Krueger are the fourth and sixth men, respectively, to occupy those positions since the Pegulas bought the team in 2011, they’d better come up with answers – and quickly. Otherwise, the hiring and firing cycle will continue to churn for the foreseeable future.