The Buffalo Sabres confirmed on Thursday morning that head coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray have both been relieved of their duties, following a tumultuous few weeks after a disappointing 2016-17 campaign.
The decision came down from the highest places in the organization, with team owner Terry Pegula releasing a statement on Thursday explaining the sudden decision. Per the official release:
Statement from Sabres Owner Terry Pegula – pic.twitter.com/4fvEmqAryV
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 20, 2017
Unsurprisingly, it sounds like the Sabres are in a race to replace the two departed personnel.
Bylsma has only been at the helm for two seasons in Buffalo, and they haven’t gone exactly according to plan.
After replacing Ted Nolan as head coach in 2015, Bylsma and the Sabres saw a leap forward in the 2015-16 campaign. This year, though, the club took a step back in practically all statistical areas, despite seeing star center Jack Eichel take a leap forward and adding free agent pieces like Kyle Okposo.
Part of the blame certainly belonged with Murray, though.
The general manager admitted towards the end of the season that the club had made a mistake when they dealt promising blue line prospect Mark Pysyk for Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who struggled immensely with the club upon his arrival. The entire blue line sits well below league standard, and that has led to part of the club’s continued struggle to hit the postseason.
The news comes just a day after rumors circulated that Eichel wouldn’t work on an extension as long as Bylsma remained the head coach. Those were quickly debunked by his agent, but the timing certainly raises some eyebrows.