BUFFALO – For now, after the Sabres’ disappointing last-place finish, Dan Bylsma is still coach, general manager Tim Murray said.
“He’s my coach today, I’m the general manager today,” Murray said this afternoon during his end-of-season news conference inside KeyBank Center. “There’s a review top to bottom. I have to meet with ownership next week in Florida. I’m sure I’ll be reviewed, I’m sure I’m being reviewed right now, as I should be.”
What does that mean? When Murray was pressed if he could say definitively if Bylsma would be coach next season, he replied, “I guess I can.”
“In this game, what I learned is there’s not pats on the back,” Murray said. “If you have a contract, that’s your pat on the back, that’s your term of employment. He has three years left on his deal. I have three years left on my deal. I’m the general manager today. He’s the coach today.
“I haven’t had any thoughts of firing him up to this point, and the reason I always say today is something can happen tomorrow.”
As Murray said, he and Bylsma are still subject to owner Terry Pegula’s review. Perhaps that’s why he wasn’t totally concrete in sticking with Bylsma.
Whatever the case, Murray hardly gave Bylsma a ringing endorsement. Clearly, he wasn’t pleased with a 78-point season filled with regression.
Murray shouldered his share of the blame, too. Before he began his 30-minute question-and-answer session, he said he wanted “everybody to know that top to bottom in the organization, we understand it was a very disappointing season.”
“I’m the general manager of the team, so I guess that’s top of the food chain when it comes to hockey, so I stand here and take full responsibility for our position, our standings and how it finished,” he said.
Murray wants everyone to evolve. In holding exit interviews with players, he said he learned the Sabres must “be clearer in our message.”
“The players want black and white, that comes to team rules, that comes to team schedules, that comes to team style of play, that comes to role on your team, that comes to being a Buffalo Sabre,” he said. “That doesn’t just fall on the coach – it also falls on the coach – but it also falls on me, it falls on the players.”
What falls on the coaches? A lot, of course. Murray mentioned he wants them to prepare differently.
Instead of breaking down video for three hours, he wants them to become more personable with the players.
“Maybe they could put a coffee in their hand once in a while and do two hours of video instead of three and get out and get to know our players and talk to our players,” he said. “It’s about coaching individuals a little more and coaching system a little less.”
Check back for later for much more from Murray, who had no update on winger Kyle Okposo, who was discharged from the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital on Friday, according to WIVB.
Murray also said the Sabres have been talking to goalie prospect Cal Petersen, who just finished his junior season at Notre Dame, daily. Petersen hasn’t decided whether to leave school yet, however.
Murray also said he wants to talk to center Jack Eichel about a contract extension July 1.