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Five Questions: Sabres GM Murray on rebuilding

by Dan Rosen's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray:

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray is no different than most GMs in that he looks around the NHL and sees examples of what he wants his team to become, most notably the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

To get there, Murray has taken on an unorthodox approach to managing a team in the middle of a season. He doesn't worry about wins and losses, points gained and lost. The Sabres are rebuilding and it's hard to find anyone who has embraced the process more than Murray.

Murray talked to about his managerial style this season in the following Q&A.

Here are Five Questions with…Tim Murray:

How do you evaluate what's going on with the Sabres this season as you think of the bigger picture?

"You evaluate individuals. That's how you evaluate. Anybody that has scouted, whether you've scouted pro players for trades or amateur players, you have scouted tons of players on bad teams and in bad situations, but you still evaluate them. Many of them you still want in your organization; some you don't, but many, many players that were on bad pro teams and bad amateur teams we have still wanted in our organization, whatever the organization I was with at the time. It's an individual evaluation basis. You do game rate, there is no question, but it's not so much game rating as it is future rating. Is this a guy you want to go forward with? You still have to project at the NHL level as well as the amateur level. Is this a guy I want to go forward with? How is he reacting to this and that? So it's an individual evaluation rather than a team evaluation and you hope you make the right evaluation."

What is your individual evaluation of Tyler Myers?

Tyler Myers
Tyler Myers
Defense - BUF
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 8
SOG: 56 | +/-: -7
"I like him. I see a massive guy that can really skate, can really move, can really disrupt the other team's possession with his long reach, with his stick. He throws big checks, knocks guys down, separates them from the puck. That's what I think his main strength is. I think in our game you have to stop possession pretty quickly in your own zone or you're stuck there. I think when we're a good team, he's a big part of that. But I think you're going to see better results when we're a better hockey club of stopping possession. When we get better players, when we can transition the puck quickly, that I think is going to be a big part of his game and I think he's very good at it."

Have you spent a lot of time, maybe more so than other GMs at this point in the season, evaluating and scouting prospects in junior hockey and college hockey rather than evaluating the players on your own team?

"Yes. I see our team a lot at home; I've seen our team very little on the road. When the team goes on the road, I go on the road. It's just worked out that way, especially with the World Juniors and even before that. I haven't been out west yet, but I've seen a few college games and a lot of OHL games. We go to Florida [this] week and we do our pro and amateur scouting meetings. Once I get that list I'll have a good direction on where to spend the second half of the year, but I also have to be around the team a certain amount of time to make those evaluations. There's still a lot of hockey to see, pro and amateur."

Did anything about your feelings on the Sabres this season change when they won 10 out of 13 games?

"No. I think that we played well. I think that we played hard. But the analytics were basically all the same. Our shooting percentage got higher in those wins. I don't want to think completely on that, but the numbers were pretty close to the same as when we lost other than save percentage and shooting percentage. So if you follow that at all you understand, and is that sustainable is the question you have to ask yourself. I answered it to myself and the people in my office, but that didn't change my outlook on this year, no."

How do you approach the buildup to the NHL Trade Deadline, because I'd imagine it become an exciting time for you? I'm sure you're a wanted guy and lots of people are calling to see who they can pick off of your team for their playoff run.

"Right. Right. It's kind of like last year, same thinking. We go down and have our pro meetings and we get ready for between now and the trade deadline. If we can make good deals that are beneficial to the future of this franchise we are going to do that. I don't want to certainly tear the team apart even though we're picking third overall as of today, but I've had a talk with people in my organization, ownership and including a player like Brian Gionta, that we're not going to let pending UFAs leave for nothing. We do have to continue to build this; we're not there. No one can be happy with the record we have and I don't blame them, but we are where we are. It is a rebuild. It wasn't a retool. It wasn't a quick fix. It's a rebuild so that we can be good for a long time. That's the mindset. In saying that we signed Brian Gionta, we traded for Josh Gorges, so we were still able to acquire good players, but we have to be able to acquire good players going forward if we're going to fix this fairly quickly."


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