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Lightning Round: Purge sweeps across Buffalo Sabres organization

The Pegulas have basically fired everyone from the Buffalo Sabres staff.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 31: Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his third period goal with Ondrej Palat #18 as Marcus Johansson #90 of the Buffalo Sabres reacts during an NHL game on December 31, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres basically fired everybody. Terry and Kim Pegula started the day relieving GM Jason Botterill of his duties, effective immediately, then went forward culling the rest of the organization that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011 (the year the Pegulas bought the team) with new GM Kevyn Adams in charge as GM (not interim).

Who was fired

When I say everyone was fired from the Buffalo Sabres, I mean everyone. Even I was let go somehow!? Jokes aside, the main areas of the business that faced firings was the Amateur Scouting department, the AHL Rochester Americans.

From the amateur scouting department, the director, Ryan Jankowski was fired, along with assistant director Jeff Crisp, and a “large chunk” of the amateur scouting staff.

From the Rochester Americans, a team that has been at or near the top of the AHL for a long time, GM Ryan Sexton, Head Coach Chris Taylor, and Assistant Coaches Gord Dineen and Toby Peterson were all let go. Taylor is highly regarded in the AHL and along with Sexton, they’ve done a lot with very few resources and talent from the NHL team.

Our friends at Die By the Blade, who have been having a wild 24 hours, have been updating this article with names and news from these firings, it appears the announcements came all of a sudden and took all day.

Despite the NHL season going all topsy turvy, most hockey contracts expire on June 30th. With the Draft not expected for a while from now, this appears to give both the Sabres and these former employees time to find jobs and get ready for the draft. The Sabres are going in with six draft picks (no third, no fifth, two sevenths), so it looks like without any time or personnel or draft capital, they’re going to have a really hard time succeeding in the area the Pegulas clearly see as a weakness this year.

Elliotte Friedman reported that something in the neighborhood of 30 people were fired all in one day. Brutal.

Why Did This Happen?

To put it bluntly, the Sabres have been terrible at drafting since the last lockout in 2013. You can see for yourself, not a single player since Jake McCabe and Linus Ullmark in 2012 has played anywhere close to 100 games for the Buffalo Sabres that were drafted outside the first round. Victor Olofsson is the only success story (so far, because there are rumors he’s getting traded) out of almost 50 players. One in 50!

The Pegulas are on their fourth GM and fourth head coach in the 10 years. They’ve drafted top 10 every year since 2012 and they still can’t put together a single team where more than three players hit 50 points. That’s right, the Sabres haven’t had a second liner score 50 points for them in a decade. For comparison, the Tampa Bay Lightning had six in 2017-18 and four last year (Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli both just missed).

I believe the Pegulas were right to make all these moves, but that’s all just because they failed to hire competent people in the first place. Their new GM (not interim!) was a VP of business last season, an assistant coach seven years before that, and we have no idea what in between! Their head of amateur scouting was in Hockey Canada forever, a group famous for blundering their spoils of an All-Star team every year no matter the tournament.

It’s the same-old same-old from the Pegulas every year and they wonder why they suck. Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen are saying now what Ryan O’Reilly said two summers ago.

So I guess we don’t have to worry about what the Sabres are going to be doing for the next little while. Keeping Jack Eichel out of the playoffs (and possibly the Amerks too?) will be great for the Lightning and the Syracuse Crunch.


Lightning Links

If you missed Geo’s article about a second training camp being a great opportunity for new perspectives, go check it out, linked below. My article about possible training camp/playoff rosters matches well, in my humble opinion.

It’s being reported that Nassau Coliseum has been shut down for good. The New York Islanders will have to play in Brooklyn from now on until their new arena in Belmont Park can open.

And Ben Bishop is So Tall!!!!