BUFFALO – In a stunning move today, Sabres owner Terry Pegula fired general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma.
Obviously, the wretched Sabres’ last-place finish in the Atlantic Division this season, a year they were supposed to return to the playoffs, was too much for Pegula to handle.
The move, perhaps not coincidentally, happened a day after WGR reported star center Jack Eichel wouldn’t sign a contract extension if Bylsma remained coach. Eichel’s agent vehemently denied the report.
“After reviewing the past season and looking at the future of our organization, Kim (Pegula) and I have decided to relieve general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma of their duties,” Pegula said in a statement. “We want to thank Tim and Dan for their hard work and efforts that they have put in during their tenures with the club. We wish them luck. We have begun the process to fill these positions immediately.”
Murray had been meeting with Pegula in Florida to discuss a failed season filled with regression – they went 33-37-12 and missed the playoffs by a whopping 17 points – and the Sabres’ future.
Eight days ago during Murray’s end-of-season news conference, he gave Bylsma what barely qualified as a tepid endorsement, saying, “He’s my coach today.” Murray also cautioned he was also subject to Pegula’s review.
Bylsma signed a five-year contract when Murray hired him in May 2015. Murray, who was hired in January 2014, signed a multi-year extension before the season.
Pegula will talk to the media Friday morning.
Check back later for more.