BUFFALO – In an end-of-season news conference that will likely become part of local lore, general manager Tim Murray bluntly discussed the Sabres’ future, tonight’s NHL Draft Lottery and took some not-so-veiled shots at the team’s old regime this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.
He even mentioned the Sabres getting their “pee-pee slapped” by the league recently.
More on that later.
Here are some highlights from the 28-minute chat from Murray and Sabres coach Ted Nolan:
Murray on the New York Islanders GM Garth Snow, who must give the Sabres his first-round pick this year or next (the Isles are in the lottery):
“Anything that makes the decision harder for Garth I’m cheering for.”
He added: “I want to win the lottery. I want to win something here.”
Murray said the Sabres, who have a dearth of scoring forwards, could take defenseman Aaron Ekblad with their top pick.
“We have to take the best player available,” he said.
Murray on buying out forward Ville Leino, who just scored zero goals in 58 games:
“Buying him out is a possibility. Buying him out is a tool we can use to improve our team. … Has everybody thought about that? Of course. It’s a very good possibility. It’s not 100 percent, but it’s a very good possibility that’s one of our buyouts.”
Murray said “there would be a better than 50-50 chance” the Sabres don’t use their second compliance buyout.
Nolan on the future of his coaching staff:
“It’s one of those things you want to make sure you evaluate properly. Tim and I had some discussions the last couple weeks. It’s hard to address during the season.”
Murray on how long the team’s rebuild could take:
“When you tear it down, it doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t buy into five-year rebuilds. I think when you use terminology like that as a GM you’re really setting yourself up for a long run if your owner buys into that. I could sit here and say it’s a seven-year rebuild and hopefully I get 10 years out of it. But that’s not reality and not what I want anyway.
“I want to rebuild here properly, which takes time. But it doesn’t have to take years.”
Murray on discussing officiating with the league:
“I’ve had some talks with people in the league. We’ve had our pee-pee slapped once here so I got to be careful with what I say. I’m on notice, and I don’t want to pay that fine. I had a talk yesterday with (director of officiating Stephen) Walkom about the (Jake McCabe) hit. They were in agreement with what I had to say.”
Murray on tanking:
“If anybody think that there’s a message of tanking being sent from upstairs, I would suggest they put a camera on me for 60 minutes of the game when we’re losing and you’ll know that tanking is not what I want.”
He added: “I think it’s a lot harder to achieve than people think it is.”
Murray also revealed some injuries. Goalie Matt Hackett needs knee surgery. Goalie Michal Neuvirth has a hip injury. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder has an ankle bulge. Winger Marcus Foligno might have shoulder surgery.
Check back later for MUCH more.