Published by hockeybuzz.com, 4-26-2017
Word on the street is that the GM search (and presumably coaching search) is on for the Buffalo Sabres. Just who is running this search at this point in time is in question as they have no one in the hockey department higher than Assistant General Manager, Mark Jakubowski. From the Sabres website here's the administrative chain of command:
Kim Pegula--Owner/CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE)
Russ Brandon--President/Alternate Governor, Managing Partner/President of PSE
After those three is a big blank next to General Manager and a list includes a COO, six Executive VP's, on VP and a couple of Executive Assistants.
When Terry Pegula first bought the team in 2011 his inner circle included two senior advisers--Ken Sawyer and Cliff Benson--to go along with President/Alternate Governor, Ted Black. The 2015-16 Sabres media guide has Brandon listed as President/Alternate Governor after he took over for Black and has both Sawyer and Benson with entries way down the guide (page 24) under Executive Administration. Sawyer is still listed as Senior Advisor/Alternate Governor and Benson as Chief Development Officer.
With Sawyer and Benson gone, there's a huge gap in the hierarchy. One would think that Brandon would be involved in the GM search, as he is president of the club, but word out of PSE is that he's not involved in hockey decisions which would have Terry and Kim Pegula doing a tandem skydive into the world of hockey ops. Keep in mind that the duo also dove into football ops under the guidance of Brandon and selected Rex Ryan as football coach. Less that two seasons into Ryan's tenure, he was fired.
They're still scraping that PR mess of the field from that failed venture.
It looks as if the Terry and Kim Show is back on, with or without Brandon. Unless they have some secret advisor tucked away in the dark recesses of KeyBank Center.
Has anyone seen Lindy Ruff recently?
The Sabres may never get out from under these words, "The Tank."
With Pegula's "rebuild" faltering after only two years and the team in limbo, there really isn't too much to talk about in Sabreland so a great fallback is the great debate on the Sabres consecutive last place finishes to draft at the top in 2014 and 2015, the year they missed out on Connor McDavid and selected Jack Eichel second overall.
It's almost a daily occurrence on twitter when a media person brings up that very sore subject. Personally I had no problem with the way the Sabres approached their future as outlined in this piece, Should the Sabres apologize, Mr. Hodge?
It was from November 10, 2014 when the hockey world, especially our neighbors to the north, were up in arms at the approach the Sabres were taking to their future. In his "Thumbs-up/Thumbs-down piece for TSN, Dave Hodge mentioned "pleas for honor" and "the integrity of the game" as Buffalo seemed wholeheartedly intent upon finishing last that season. It would be the final season a team finishing last would be guaranteed one of the first two picks in the draft and the Sabres weren't hiding their intentions.
I get what he was saying, and social media made it worse. Had Twitter and Facebook been around when Pittsburgh tanked twice for generational players, I'm sure the backlash would have been just as severe. But the NHL is not a league full of executives up for sainthood. Was Sam Pollock a saint when he dictated the rules of the expansion draft in the Original-Six era? Was Peter Pocklington a saint when he signed Wayne Gretzky to his "personal services contract?" And were there any in the offices of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment who's tanking with dignity in the 2015-16 season netted them franchise prospect Auston Matthews?
The Sabres did what they did, over and done with.
Time to move on.
Long-time NFL reporter Ed Werder announced on Twitter today that he was laid off today by ESPN, who he'd been with for 17 yrs. According to ProFootball Talk, "ESPN is expected to lay off around 100 employees this week, as the network tries to reduce costs as it deals with declining revenues."
I was instantly reminded of how unceremoniously Kevin Oklobzija was let go from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle after 31 years covering the Rochester Americans.
Both provided quality work.
And just minutes ago as I was writing this piece, Scott Burnside, a member of the Professional Writers Association and 13 year veteran for ESPN was also laid off.
Dan Rosen of NHL.com had the perfect tweet, "This is devastating. I don't know of a better person in the business than Scotty. ESPN's huge loss will be another company's huge gain."