Jason Botterill was fired as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday and replaced by Kevyn Adams.
"When we were in detailed discussions with Jason and how we felt we needed to move forward effectively, efficiently, and economically running this franchise, we felt there were too many differences in opinion going into the future," Sabres co-owner Terry Pegula said. "We just thought, since we had more time, it would be best for us to make this change.
"We believe in acting and not reacting to certain situations. We as owners had a vision on where we need to go in these uncertain times. We don't know if we're going to have fans next year and whatnot as far as competitive sports go. Looking ahead, we need to make some adjustments in the business side of our operations that we provide that foresight to the organization. We felt like we weren't being heard. I'm not going to sit here and dish on Jason Botterill, but we have a vision and we want to see our vision succeed."
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The Sabres announced May 26 that Botterill would return for his fourth season as GM after they finished 30-31-8, 13th in the Eastern Conference (.493 points percentage). Buffalo had a losing record in all three seasons under Botterill and is 88-115-30 since he was hired May 11, 2017. The Sabres will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season after not making the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, extending the longest active drought in the NHL to nine seasons.
"Certainly, that was our intent that Jason was going to continue," co-owner Kim Pegula said. "If you recall at that time we had just found out that the regular season had ended. And then the next three weeks ... especially with the announcement of the draft being really pushed back to sometime this fall. You know, it gave us a little bit more time to really start digging in and say, 'OK, what does the future look like? Let's start looking at planning for the future.' And I think that's what changed in those three weeks."
The Sabres have the seventh-best odds (6.5 percent) to win the NHL Draft Lottery and the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The First Phase of the draft lottery will be held June 26.
Buffalo started 8-1-1 and was 16-11-6, second in the Atlantic Division, following a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 12, but went 1-6-1 in its next eight games and was 1-6-0 in its final seven games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
"We're going to keep trying," Kim Pegula said. "The Sabres have been a love of ours for a long time, Terry even more so. This is something that we're very passionate about and we are not going to sit there and keep saying, 'Well, you know what? We tried it this way and it didn't work, so let's not try anymore.' We feel like Kevyn is the right person and we felt like at the time that we made those other decisions whether it was leadership, whether it was coaches or GMs, we felt at that time that they were the right person for the organization. That doesn't always pan out the way it's supposed to, but I will tell you guys and in the community that we're going to continue to try and get us to where we need to be. We just felt that Kevyn was better equipped to get us down those roads."
Center Jack Eichel, who led the Sabres with 78 points and was eighth in the NHL with 36 goals, has played in 354 NHL games for Buffalo since it selected him No. 2 in the 2015 NHL Draft but has not played in a playoff game in his five NHL seasons.
"Listen, I'm fed up with [it]," the Sabres captain said May 29. "I'm fed up and I'm frustrated … I'd be lying if I said I'm not getting frustrated with the way things are going. It's definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It's been a tough couple of months, it's been a tough five years with where things have went.
"I'm a competitor. I want to win every time I step on the ice. I want to win the Stanley Cup every time I start a season. I've already started to prepare for next season. I'm already back on the ice, I've already started training to try to better myself for next season, whenever that is."
The Sabres named Adams senior vice president of business administration Sept. 23. He joined the organization in 2009 as player development coach and was an assistant from 2011-13. A center chosen by the Boston Bruins with the No. 25 pick in the 1993 NHL Draft, Adams played 11 NHL seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks, and won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
"Many of you know that I grew up in western New York and I wore No. 11 when I started playing hockey because of watching (former Sabres forward) Gilbert Perreault," Adams said. "This is very special day for me and my family. I am so excited to start this job, learn from (coach) Ralph Krueger and his staff, work side by side on a daily basis. And as many of you know, I believe that winning is doing it together. We're going to move forward, we're going to be positive. And I'm really looking forward to what lies ahead."
Krueger, who will enter his second season as Sabres coach, is on board with the new direction.
"I signed on here as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and I'm very proud to continue," he said. "There's a lot of emotions attached with decisions that were made today. But all that matters now is the actions that we take moving forward. My actions will continue to be as the head coach. It's going to be a team effort going forward from Kim, Terry, from Kevyn and myself. We feel a common philosophy here, we feel common ground and we're excited about the opportunities that we have moving forward.
"My role in this club is very clearly from the first day to be the very best head coach I can be. I'm still not there. I have to improve myself first, but I look forward to attacking all these different levels of sports challenges together with Kevyn when it comes to the management side in the future. I will have enough responsibility when the gates open for us again. We all know it will come hard and fast and we will be ready."
The Sabres on Tuesday also fired GM Randy Sexton, coach Chris Taylor and assistants Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen from their American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester.