SBD/April 21, 2017/Franchises

Pegula Takes Responsibility For Sabres' Failings After Surprisingly Firing GM, Coach

Sabres Owner Terry Pegula on Friday "repeatedly stressed discipline, structure, communication and character" while discussing the firing of GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma, according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. Pegula during a 15-minute press conference said, "Accountability starts with me. We are not happy with our season this year, and there are no excuses. Six years ago, I stood here and told the Buffalo Sabres fans that the reason for our existence was to win the Stanley Cup. That is still the truth. One team wins the Cup. We expected more this season.” Vogl notes in "accepting blame," Pegula acknowledged he "wished he was more involved in the hiring of Murray four years ago." Pegula added that he and his wife, Kim, "interviewed Murray and Bylsma separately this week." He said that he had "not decided to remove" the two prior to the meetings (BUFFALONEWS.com, 4/21). In Buffalo, Mike Harrington writes it was a "good thing" to see Pegula address the media. The short duration of the press conference "left lots of questions unanswered," but it was still "informative." Harrington: "Even if you don't agree with some of his answers or philosophies ... it was worth hearing it from him." The "biggest takeaway" was when Pegula "clearly swiped at Murray with his discussion for the need for better communication, structure and character in his organization." It is "well-known Kim Pegula was not fond of Murray's style and it would appear Terry agreed" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 4/21).

STARTING AT THE TOP: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes the Sabres' current problems "begin and end with ownership." Terry Pegula "arrived with grandiose goals but no real plans when he purchased the team." But the Pegulas "didn't make changes when obvious changes were needed." Gleason: "They listened to the wrong people. They were in over their heads." They "can begin acknowledging that they made numerous mistakes, admitting that they trusted the wrong people and accepting responsibility." Gleason: "It starts with them understanding that they don't have all the answers, either" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/21). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen wrote the Pegulas "bear much of the responsibility for the Sabres’ troubles." The Sabres were a playoff team when the Pegulas bought them in '11, but they have "missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons under their stewardship." They keep "hiring new people, but getting similar results." Allen: "They must not be asking the right questions" (USATODAY.com, 4/20). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote Pegula has been a "disaster as an owner" in "every tangible way that can be measured in on-ice performance." The next coach the Sabres hire will be the fifth of Pegula's tenure. Campbell: "Terry Pegula got the Sabres into this mess and it’s imperative that he gets them out. ... The sooner Pegula makes the right choices in Buffalo and gets out of his own way, the better off the Sabres are going to be" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 4/20). 

IN NEED OF A PLAN: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington asked, "What plan do these owners have to fix this hockey team now?" The Pegulas "keep showing over and over again they don't have a clue what it takes to run a professional sports franchise and now they're left to pick up the mess from the botched tank that was sold to them as the quick-fix plan to a Stanley Cup." The Sabres' tanking "worked because it brought" on C Jack Eichel, but it also "created a culture where losing was acceptable, where the fan base was irreparably torn." Sabres President Russ Brandon needs to "do something -- anything -- to make the season ticket-holders feel appreciated and then stay away from the rest of the operation." It is time for the Sabres to "get a real president of hockey to run this operation because the owners have no business picking a general manager or coach" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 4/20).

DETACH YOURSELF AS A FAN: SPORTSNET.ca's John Shannon wrote the "disconnect" Sabres players had with Bylsma "pervaded into the owner's suite." Shannon: "That’s not healthy." An owner has to "trust what your manager believes." It "probably isn’t in the best interest of the franchise, if the whim of a fan becomes team policy." It is a "recipe for disaster." The rebuild "isn’t anywhere near finished, and now they have fired the architect." Shannon: "You can’t run a professional sports organization if you’re a fan" (SPORTSNET.ca, 4/20).
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