The Buffalo Sabres have hired Pittsburgh Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill as the new general manager of the team today. Botterill was pegged as the front-runner for about a week. The reports were made official today by the club after the Penguins wrapped up their playoff series last night with the Washington Capitals.
The Sabres seemed to have targeted Botterill right away as one of their top choices for the job after they decided to move on from Tim Murray. Current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said on The Instigators Show on WGR 550 that he was contacted by team President Russ Brandon early in the process. He went on to say “at that point in time, I gave them permission to talk to him.”
Botterill actually spent time in the Sabres organization as a player. He played 36 games with the Sabres from 2002 to 2004. He scored three goals and eight points in his brief stint with the team.
Botterill joined the Penguins in 2007 after working for the NHL and Dallas Stars. He was promoted to assistant general manager in 2009 replacing the departed Chuck Fletcher. Botterill continued his ascension again when Jim Rutherford was hired as general manager in 2014 when he was named associate general manager.
According to the Penguins executive bio on their website, Botterill, is credited for being a key architect of the 2009 and 2016 Stanley Cup winning teams. It also states he was a key part in hiring Mike Sullivan and managed the salary cap for the club.
Botterill also was the general manager for the Penguins minor-league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He helped find and develop players like Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary. Both of which are a big part of the Penguins success right now.
At 40-years old he becomes the second-youngest general manager in the league behind only John Chayka in Arizona. Botterill is well respected around the league and is being regarded as a great hire by the Sabres. He’s regarded as an intelligent hockey mind, good leader and know’s how to develop players.
[miptheme_quote author=”Jim Rutherford on The Instigators on WGR 550″ style=”text-center”]Jason Botterill was my guy that I went to all the time.[/miptheme_quote]
Structure and Stability
In his introductory press conference today Botterill talked about what kind of team he wants to build. “The goal of the organization needs to be year in and year out competing at a high level,” Botterill said today. Sabres owner Terry Pegula talked about wanting more structure, better communication and high character in his organization. He seems to have hit a home run with the hiring of Botterill.
The new head of the hockey department also talked about the importance of building a strong AHL team. The Rochester Americans suffered under Murray’s watch. Having played for both the Sabres and Amerks, Botterill, understands the passion for hockey in both markets. As well as the need to have a strong minor league system. He said, “we want to build two teams, one in Buffalo, one in Rochester.”
Botterill appeared to check all the boxes of the type of candidate the Pegula’s were looking for in their search. The fan base should be excited about what the new head man could bring to the Sabres. It’ll be a process and may not happen right away, but today was the first step to the Sabres being a competitive club again in the league.