The Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Dan Bylsma and General Manager Tim Murray, Thursday. Bylsma lasted just two seasons behind the Sabres bench and no playoff appearances. The Sabres record regressed this season from 35 wins and 81 points to 33 wins and 78 points. Murray spent and three years as Sabres GM, and oversaw the intentional destruction of the 2014 Sabres roster, in order to obtain Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. The Sabres landed the second overall pick and selected Eichel.
This season, injuries decimated the Sabres. According to Mangameslost.com, the Sabres suffered the most impactful injuries in the NHL, finishing ahead of the Penguins. Stars Jack Eichel missed the first two months of the season with a high ankle sprain and Ryan O” Reilly missed several weeks after an appendectomy.
— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) April 20, 2017
As rebuilding Toronto and Edmonton surged ahead of the Sabres, the coach and GM’s fate has been loudly questioned in Buffalo. Also, rumors have persisted regarding friction between Bylsma and Eichel. Several published reports claimed Eichel would not sign a contract extension if Bylsma remained the head coach. Eichel has denied that friction.
Recently fired L.A. Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi is a natural candidate to fill the Sabres empty GM chair. The Kings won a pair of Stanley Cups in the past five years and Lombardi is a meticulous leader.
Another potential candidate for the GM chair is Penguins Assistant GMB, Bill Guerin. Guerin, 46, has climbed the ranks through the Penguins organization and acquired more responsibility over the past two seasons. He has been instrumental identifying potential low-cost free agents for both the Penguins and Wilkes-Barre Baby Pens roster, and has experience building the Baby Pens roster.
Guerin is seen as a potential successor to Jim Rutherford, but Rutherford’s recent contract extension and comments indicate he may not step aside anytime soon.
Assistant coaches on Stanley Cup winning teams are typically hot commodities.
Both Rick Tocchet and Jacques Martin have head coaching experience. While Tocchet’s experience as Tampa Bay Lightning was brief, his fire to be a bench boss again was clear when he lobbied for the Penguins job in 2014.
Sources close to Martin believe he too would like to be a head coach, again. Martin, 64, guided the Ottawa Senators for eight seasons and won three division titles. Martin won the Jack Adams award in 1998-99. Martin also coached in St. Louis (1986-1998), Florida (2006-2008) and last coached in Montreal from 2009 until 26 games into the 2012 season.
Martin was hired by the Penguins as an assistant coach in 2013 and has served, in some capacity, under Dan Bylsma, Mike Johnston, and Mike Sullivan.
Three other NHL coaches are over 60 years old, Ken Hitchcock, Randy Carlisle, and Bruce Boudreau.