Hey Tim Murray, congratulations on becoming the next GM of the Buffalo Sabres and welcome to the lovely city of Buffalo. I’m sure you’ve noticed now that the Buffalo Sabres are completely different than the Ottawa Senators and I’m sure Terry Pegula mentioned his goal of winning the Stanley Cup in Buffalo. Your clock is ticking, start moving.
Mr. Murray, you have joined the Buffalo Sabres organization at an interesting and opportunistic time, some might even say the perfect time for a brand new general manager. The team is at a cross roads with the trade deadline looming and a rebuild in progress, how the rebuild goes from this day forward rests alone in your hands. You can continue to sell off assets in hopes of high draft picks or you can bring in young, promising players in an attempt to get the Sabres back to the playoffs.
Now up until your first move as Buffalo Sabres GM everyone will go somewhat easy on you. We the fans understand that this is your first real stint as a general manager having complete control over an NHL team and are honestly quite happy to have someone other than Darcy Regier pulling the strings, but once you make your first couple of moves the gloves are off.
Please understand that every move you make in the not too distant future will be highly scrutinized. From who you decide to trade to what you decide to eventually do with interim head coach Ted Nolan, it will all be dissected and argued a hundred times on the interwebs. But your biggest and first task will perhaps be the most scrutinized- what will you do with Ryan Miller?
The future of the Buffalo Sabres netminder has been the topic of discussion in Buffalo since before the puck dropped on the season. Miller came into the season in the last year of his contract and looking to rebuild from a rocky 2013 post lockout and win back a spot on team USA. Many believed that Miller also came into this season playing for a new contract elsewhere. But now Ryan Miller’s future is in
your hands. Will you trade him at the deadline? If so what will you ask for; draft picks, prospects or a veteran? Will you attempt to work out a new contract with the netminder that will see him stay in Buffalo through the rebuild? Or will you risk losing him for nothing to free agency at the end of the season?
Before you decide please note the Miller situation divides the Sabres fan base. Some want him shipped out of town while others want him to stay and help the Sabres through the rebuild. It’s really a catch 22 scenario which will have huge implications on the Sabres future. The man you’re replacing- Darcy Regier- I’m sure you’ve heard of him, turned out to be public enemy number one in Buffalo due to his handling of past players; tread carefully or you’ll follow the same path.
Sure it’s not the ideal situation to be entering having to decide on the future of the franchise goaltender mere weeks after being hired for your first GM job in the NHL, but you’re the man with the plan who will be responsible for rebuilding the Buffalo Sabres and one day making them competitive again- hope you’re up for the task.
From everything the “hockey experts” have told us about you – yes we’ve done our research – Sabres fans want to know the man running their beloved team. We’ve learned that you have an eye for young talent and know how to develop young players. Feel free to use Mikhail Grigorenko as your first experiment in Buffalo. The previous regime have ruined him and now it’s your job to fix him. Also feel free to use your AHL experience to rebuild the reeling Rochester Americans please, we could use some solid talent down on the farm team.
Of course in addition to Ryan Miller there are others you must make decisions on including captain Steve Ott- do the Sabres really trade another captain? Much like fans called for the man you’re replacing to be fired, they’re also calling for you to do something with Drew Stafford and Ville Leino- if the Sabres want to be competitive again there is no room for under performers. Lastly Matt Moulson, do you keep Moulson to build around and think about acquiring a number one centre for him to play with?
As you yourself said during your press conference- “This team is in last place, everyone can be traded!” Did you really mean that or was that just a cliche used to fend off the Buffalo News? Just a heads up, you’ll be feuding with them a lot during you’re tenure especially if Terry Pegula refuses to speak publicly.
You have lots of decisions to make ahead of March 5th Tim Murray, decisions that will affect the direction and rebuild of the Sabres. The team has made progress but still needs to develop young players, will you keep the ball rolling in the right direction? Remember the guy who held your position prior to yourself quickly become a marked man as fans cheered for his firing, you’d be best not to follow that route.
Welcome to Buffalo Mr. Tim Murray and once again congratulations on the job. The fans in Buffalo love their team and bleed blue and gold for the Sabres, but if they feel you’re anything like the former boss… well I wish you good luck Tim Murray. Buckle you’re seatbelt sir, you’re in for a wild ride as the new GM in hockey heaven.