One of the worst kept secrets in recent Buffalo sports memory became official Thursday as the Buffalo Sabres announced the appointment of Jason Botterill as the team’s general manager. A press conference is scheduled for 4pm today.
The announcement had to wait until the conclusion of the Pittsburgh Penguins/Washington Capitals playoff series.
He takes over for Tim Murray, who was canned along with head coach Dan Blysma on April 20 after Buffalo finished dead-last in the Atlantic division and 15th overall in the Eastern Conference this past season.
Botterill, 40 becomes the team’s eighth general manager in team history. He’s been the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager since 2009 and associate GM since 2014. He’s also been the GM of their Wilkes-Barrie Scranton AHL team for the past eight years, where the team complied a 325-173-88 record with him in charge.
Botterill played parts of two seasons with the Sabres (2002-03, 2003-04) and scored three goals in 39 games. He spent far more time in Rochester, where he netted 59 goals in 118 games over three seasons, which of course speaks absolutely nothing to his qualifications as Sabres GM but stats are always fun to type nonetheless.
He beat out at least six other candidates that reportedly got interviews for the job.
MoranAlytics Take: I have to confess to being at least mildly impartial to Tim Murray and therefore was saddened by his dismissal. On the hockey side I thought he deserved another year despite his shortcoming (stacking enough talent on the blue line). I feel Buffalo’s regression was largely on the shoulders of head coach Dan Blysma losing the locker room and failure to properly coach the younger players. From a personal/blogger side it was refreshing to have a Buffalo GM (football or hockey) so dependably engaging and candid when dealing the media. Seriously, some of his pressers were pay-per-view worthy as far as I’m concerned. I’ll miss him for that alone.
But I digress.
If they had to fire Murray, I’m glad it’s Botterill coming in. Sure, I like the fact he played for the Sabres in parts of two seasons as the other Jason (not Pominville), but I’m far more enthralled with him being a key part in the construction of two Penguin Stanley Cup winning teams. Plus, we all know how much Terry Pegula loves his Pittsburgh Penguin connections.
I feel ill-equipped to offer much assessment of Botterill as a front office executive, but there’s no denying his rise in Pittsburgh, starting as the team’s direct of hockey operations in 2007 before becoming assistant general manager in 2009.
Sure, there’s a nice amount of young talent in tow in Buffalo, but Botterill has a long road ahead of him in piecing together a legit contender. The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 and looked as far away as ever by the end of last season. His first act will be bringing in a head coach who can hopefully enjoy staying power. Whoever the guy is, and it’s heavily rumored Rick Tocchet is the frontrunner will be the team’s fifth coach in the past four and a half years.
I knew precious little on the other GM contenders to offer a proper comparison, but I’m on board the Botterill train. The selfishness in me just hopes he’s half the interview Murray was.