Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/10/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres President Pat LaFontaine's two-month search for a general manager ended with an unexpected addition.
In hiring Tim Murray to take over as GM on Thursday, LaFontaine also announced the addition of Hockey Hall of Fame executive Craig Patrick to serve as a special adviser to assist in transforming the NHL's worst team into a contender.
"It's comfortable for me to be in the middle, having played centre my whole life," the former Sabres captain said, seated between Murray and Patrick. "To have these wingers is pretty special."
Murray has the background, decisiveness and even a hockey pedigree LaFontaine was seeking in a general manager.
The 50-year-old Murray is the nephew of Senators general manager Bryan Murray, and has spent much of his 20 years in the NHL being mentored by his uncle, including the past seven in Ottawa as an assistant GM.
"I think we have the next great eye for talent," LaFontaine said. "He's earned it. He's done every job to get to this point. He's had success everywhere he's been. And he's going to have success here in Buffalo."
Patrick assumes a role similar to the one he held the previous two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's LaFontaine's belief that Patrick's 30-plus years of experience -- including 17 with the Pittsburgh Penguins -- can provide focus to a team in transition after general manager Darcy Regier and first-year coach Ron Rolston were fired in mid-November.
"Craig's going to help evaluate. He's got the experience," LaFontaine said. "He's won Stanley Cups. He's gone through rebuilds."
The Sabres' front-office has begun taking shape in the two months since LaFontaine took over.
"I'm on a mission to bring the right people here," LaFontaine said. "I'm still not done. We still have a lot of work."
Now comes improving the team on the ice, which sits last in the NHL with 12-26-4 record entering its home game against Florida on Thursday night.
Though Buffalo has shown improvement in going 8-11-3 under interim coach Ted Nolan, Murray made clear he has plenty of work to do.
Murray intends to continue the process begun under Regier by building through the draft. And he won't be averse to trading any of Buffalo's remaining core players -- including goalie Ryan Miller.
"This team's in last place right now," Murray said. "Everybody can be traded."
Miller, along with captain Steve Ott and newly acquired forward Matt Moulson, are in the final year of their contracts.
Another issue is the status of Nolan, who was hired by LaFontaine with the opportunity to continue on as coach once the new GM was hired.
Murray is open to working with Nolan beyond this season.
"It's a clean slate here," Murray said. "There's no preconceived notions. He's the coach of the hockey team, and I'm looking forward to getting to know him."
Nolan, who is back for a second stint in Buffalo, said he had no input on Murray's hiring, and is eager to getting to know his new boss.
"My status has always been the same since Pat asked me to come here," Nolan said. "I'm here to coach this team as best as I can. I'm not worried about tomorrow, I'm just worried about here today."
-- The Associated Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 C2
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Bozak, Clarkson out with lower-body injuries
Red Wings hoping for healthier 2014-15
LA Kings return to camp eager for title defence
Sharks open with new vibe after playoff collapse
Kings' Drew Doughty misses 1st workout with injury
Grieving Suter glad to be back on ice with Wild
Bruins eyeing redemption on 1st day of camp
Flyers captain Claude Grioux out 2 weeks
Young Dallas Stars open camp more confident group
Wild goalie situation still in flux
Ovechkin back at left wing as Capitals open camp
Stars' Peverley working out but not back on ice
Gallant's era with Panthers gets underway
Ducks' Kyle Palmieri out 2 weeks with ankle sprain
Hurricanes begin Peters' 1st training camp
Reigning NHL MVP Sidney Crosby cleared to practice
Selanne rips Boudreau, but Ducks coach understands
Wild sign goalie Darcy Kuemper
Avs look to build off momentum in Roy's 2nd year
Blackhawks open training camp at Notre Dame
Selanne rips Boudreau, but Ducks coach understands
Selanne biography sheds light on poor relationship with Ducks coach
New coach, 4 teammates as Predators report to camp
Galchenyuk ready to try move to centre
Young players in the mix for Arizona
Crosby, Malkin to miss practice as a precaution
Bruins have some lineup questions
Ryan Kesler begins Cup chase with Anaheim Ducks
Devils open camp without veteran goalie Brodeur
Goals, goaltending talk of Flames camp
Panthers eager to turn page after last season
Spott brushes off disagreement with Kessel
Leafs camp expected to be competitive
New Capitals coach Trotz has plans for Ovechkin
Sabres rebuild after franchise record for losses
New TV series to feature wives of NHL stars
Wild goalie Harding has broken foot
Jackets ready to move on if Johansen doesn't sign
Oilers hire Pelletier as skating coach
Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension