One day after relieving general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma of their duties, Sabres owner Terry Pegula met with the media to explain the decision on Friday morning. He began by thanking Murray and Bylsma, and then reiterated a sentiment he first expressed when he purchased the team in 2011.
"We, as members of the Sabres organization, are all responsible for our success," he said. "But accountability starts with me. We are not happy with our season this year and there are no excuses. Six years ago I stood here and told Buffalo Sabres fans that the reason for our existence is to win a Stanley Cup. That is still the truth. One team wins the Cup. We expected more this season."
With that, Pegula concluded his opening remarks by listing three characteristics that will stand at the forefront as the organization searches for a new coach and general manager: discipline, structure and communication.
Those were the qualities that Terry and Kim Pegula decided were lacking in the organization following season-ending discussions with Murray, Bylsma and Sabres players, which ultimately led to their decision on Thursday.
"That's how you win," Pegula said. "All of that stuff goes together with character. You've got to have character throughout the organization, on the ice and they have to be in a disciplined, structured environment where everybody knows what everybody's doing and everybody's talking, and that's how you win."
Here are some of the other takeaways from Pegula's 15-minute session:
On Jack Eichel
Reports circulated on Wednesday that Jack Eichel would not have had interest in signing a contract extension had Bylsma remained the coach, reports that both Eichel himself and his agent, Peter Fish, denied later that day.
Pegula echoed those sentiments when asked about the situation on Friday.
"Jack's involvement as it was reported - I don't know the exact words of how that was reported - but it was a complete fabrication," he said. "I defend Jack just as Peter did. It's not a true story. Were players unhappy? Absolutely. We're standing here today, we're not in a Cup race."
On the hiring process
With the NHL Draft coming up on June 23 and free agency set to open on July 1, Pegula said the team will move to conduct its search as "quickly and efficiently" as possible. In the meantime, head amateur scout Jeff Crisp will head up day-to-day operations on the amateur side, while multiple members of the organization will work together making decisions on the pro side.
As for the future structure of the organization, Pegula was asked whether or not he might hire someone to oversee the hockey department above the general manger. He didn't rule it out, but said that the structure will depend partially on the vision of the first person they bring into the organization.
"Without disclosing specifics on this search, we are going to find the best candidates that we will bring into our organization to achieve our goals," he said. "The structure will land depending on the first person that we bring in, what his attitude is and how we should work together."
Pegula also said that experience will be a key in the search for a new general manager, although he added that their approach may change as they begin to speak with candidates. He also said that he will be more personally involved than when Murray or Bylsma were hired.
"I can tell you that I was not involved in the last GM/coach search to a large extent and I regret that move," he said. "And that's all I'm going to say about that."
Pegula said that no interviews had been conducted as of Friday morning.