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What went wrong with the Buffalo Sabres this season?
“Oh, god, could you be anymore broad?” asked GM Tim Murray, channeling Chandler Bing.
The season postmortem by Murray on Wednesday was really amazing: a combination of frustration, self-criticism, stalwart optimism and, in the end, totally throwing Dan Bylsma and his coaching staff under the bus for being video-obsession automatons that don’t drink coffee with their players enough.
Murray said his coaches need to focus more on what’s happening inside the building, and less about preparing for their opponents in the video room.
“The coaches work extremely hard. They’re here at 7 in the morning, and they leave at night. The video work they do, they preparation … it’s exhausting. It’s every detail. I just wonder, and do have an opinion and think, that maybe they’re stuck in that room and preparing and working hard, and maybe they can put a coffee in their hand once in a while and do two hours of video instead of three and get out there and get to know our players a little more and talk to our players. It’s about coaching individuals a little more and coaching systems less,” said Murray.
He said that communication has been a problem, not only for the coaches but for management.
“We have to be clearer in our message. All of us. The players want it black and white. That comes to team rules. That comes to team schedules, team style of play, role on your team, that comes to being a Buffalo Sabres. That doesn’t fall on just the coach, that falls on me,” he said.
“I’m willing to take the sword here, as I should.”
Willingness to be impaled aside, Murray was asked if Bylsma would be his coach next season.
“As I say every day, when I get asked that question: He’s my coach today. I’m the general manager today. There’s going to be a review, top to bottom. I’m going to meet with ownership in Florida next week. I’m sure I’m going to be reviewed. I’m sure I’m being reviewed right now. As I should be,” he said.
OK, but can Murray say that Bylsma will be back next season?
“I guess I can. I always say ‘as of today’ and you guys take it the way you want. In this game, what I learned, is that there’s no pats on the back. If you have a contract, that’s your pat on the back. He has three years left on his deal. I have three years left on my deal. I’m the GM today. He’s the coach today. I haven’t had any thoughts of firing him, up to this point,” said Murray.
The Sabres have some work to do this offseason. OK, a lot of work to do: Increasing their overall team depth, with a focus on the blueline; figuring out what to do with Evander Kane; working on Jack Eichel’s next contract, and probably handing him the captaincy.
As of now, it seems like Bylsma will be the guy to see this through, unless Murray goes down to Florida and the Pegulas decide it’s time to get rid of a coach no matter what’s left on his contract. To paraphrase Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, “It’s what they DO.”
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