Earlier this week Mike Babcock finally decided where he would be coaching for the foreseeable future. The Babcock derby eventually was narrowed down to Buffalo, Detroit, and Toronto. The Sabres and Red Wings appeared to be the final two, but a sudden change saw Babcock sign a 8 year 50 million dollar contract with Toronto. The Sabres appeared to have finished 2nd behind the Leafs. Entering the final days of the Babcock decision, the Sabres felt confident about their hopes to land the free agent coach. Now that the side show for Mike Babcock’s services has ended, the real coaching search begins for the next Buffalo bench boss.
Lining up the Candidates
Tim Murray will spend the next week lining up his candidates and then inviting them in to begin interviews. Murray has indicated that he has reached out to people he would like to speak to and has received calls from people who would like the opportunity to interview for the job. The Sabres coaching job is very attractive and should allow them to find the best possible candidate. Buffalo has a lot of cap space, will be drafting a potential franchise center in Jack Eichel, and a management team that
is determined to build a winning team.
Various reports have indicated that the Sabres have received permission from the Pittsburgh Penguins to interview Dan Bylsma. Bylsma is an interesting candidate for the Sabres. He has a Stanley Cup ring on his resume and a history of coaching winning teams. Things didn’t end well for Bylsma in Pittsburgh and his poor coaching performance of team USA in the Olympics; his credibility took a hit around the league. Now being out of the NHL for a year the question is has Bylsma learned anything? Has he figured out how to handle things better now than he did in Pittsburgh? If I were Murray, I would push Bylsma on what has changed about him being away for a year. The Penguins haven’t really turned things around after Bylsma’s departure, which is something he can point to in any coaching interview. He certainly wasn’t the only problem in Pittsburgh even though the organization tried to use him as a scapegoat.
An under the radar name for the Sabres could be former Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. Murray has a history with DeBoer going back to his Ottawa days. DeBoer was a finalist to be the head coach of the Senators along with Craig Hartsburg. The Ottawa owner would end up deciding on Hartsburg as the next coach, but Murray has always thought highly of DeBoer. The Sabres may need to move fast if they want to have the opportunity to speak with DeBoer. His name has already been linked to the San Jose Sharks coaching vacancy. When you look at his coaching past DeBoer doesn’t bring about much excitement. His teams have only made the playoffs one time in his time with Florida and New Jersey. That one playoff appearance did end up being a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in which the Devils would lose in the 2011-12 season. DeBoer could be a hard sell to fans who are
expecting a bigger and more established name.
Among other candidates the Sabres will look to interview could be Luke Richardson, Terry Murray, and Paul MacLean. Other names may emerge as the search starts to ramp up. Murray knows what type of coach he’s looking for and owner Terry Pegula has full belief in the plan the Sabres General Manager has set up.