Chris and Tyler wrap up season five by laying out what we see as early moves for new Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. In addition to running down the pros and cons of Rick Tocchet and Phil Housley, we hit on early roster moves and what the plan of attack on the blueline should be.
With Tim Murray set to be the star of this morning’s press conference the front office makeover will have been completed nearly two months after it began with the introduction of Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine.
LaFontaine’s extensive search for a GM ran through a gamut of candidates before landing on Murray, who served as Ottawa’s Assistant General Manager prior to this appointment. While the process took far longer than expected or desired for many (including myself) it would appear that LaFontaine exhausted all options and vetted every candidate on his list to the fullest extent. While the original timeline was expected to only be a few weeks, I give credit to LaFontaine for conducting the search properly. If it indicates the type of work ethic LaFontaine will put into his position, I’m confident that the Sabres will be in good hands with him at the hockey department’s helm.
Murray appears to be a strong pick despite the early clubhouse leaders being names like Jason Botterill and Paul Fenton – widely considered the best candidates to take over a GM position soon. A vast majority of Murray’s tenure in the NHL has seen him at the reigns of amateur talent evaluation and draft operations. He was part of a management team that scouted and drafted players like Joffery Lupul, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan in Anaheim before working with his uncle in Ottawa to draft players like Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Robin Lehner and others.
One interesting thing I found when perusing the drafts of team’s he’s been with is that while his guidance hasn’t yielding overwhelming success in middle rounds, the Ducks swung and missed on back-to-back first round selections after Murray’s departure. So there’s certainly something to be said about the guidance he provides at the draft table.
Pierre LeBrun has pointed out that Murray’s talent lies in talent evaluation and it would appear that his talents are particularly effective with younger players as his duties as Binghamton’s GM helped the Baby Sens win a Calder Cup just three years ago. Given the scores of picks and prospects the Sabres own, Murray appears to be a strong fit for guiding the Sabres through their rebuild. Continue reading
The US Olympic selection committee did an interesting thing providing complete access to a pair of reporters throughout their evaluation process for the 2014 Olympic Team. If you haven’t already read Scott Burnside or Kevin Allen’s breakdown of the process, I strongly recommend you do so now.
By giving the pair of decorated writers a chance to be the proverbial fly on the wall during the decision making process, USA Hockey not only provided a window into a process that most hockey fans ever dream of, but they also may have opened the door for other such ventures.
With 24/7 helping to increase exposure to the day-to-day operations of a hockey team – Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero breaking down their roster immediately springs to mind – fans began to start seeing things that they had no insight on before. With the tease at Dion Phaneuf’s contract negotiation in the most recent episode of the HBO series, I can only imagine that we’ll see a bit more in the series finale. Add the snippets of front office peeks from 24/7 and other similar programs to the all access work from Burnside and Allen and I think there is a recipe for even more interesting access to be provided by NHL franchises. Continue reading