It all started with a discussion that Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula had with former Sabres great Pat LaFontaine at a dinner party. LaFontaine dazzled Pegula with his outline of how he would bring the troubled franchise back to its former glory. Pegula was so impressed that he fired former general manager Darcy Regier and hired LaFontaine to fill the newly-created position of president of hockey operations. LaFontaine made it very clear that he would not be the general manager because he did not feel qualified for the position. Instead, LaFontaine would do an exhaustive search to find the right man for the job.
That was Nov. 13, 2013 and Sabres fans are still waiting for their new general manager. In the meantime, LaFontaine fired former head coach Ron Rolston and put Ted Nolan in as interim head coach. LaFontaine explained that the “interim” tag could only be lifted by the new general manager. Fans are starting to feel as though time is ticking away on the Sabres’ chances for retaining elite goaltender Ryan Miller and making him the cornerstone of the franchise’s new championship direction. Nolan needs a general manager to start pulling off big trades and putting together ideas for going after free agents. In other words (as Sabres’ play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret would say), time is a-wastin’ on LaFontaine to find a new general manager.
Now comes word from the WGR Radio 550 in Buffalo Facebook page that, after what has been said to be a long and comprehensive search, LaFontaine is finally ready to unveil his new general manager to the public. The top candidate for the position is Ottawa Senators‘ assistant general manager Tim Murray. If the last name sounds familiar, that is because Tim Murray is the nephew of Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray. Tim Murray has held his position with the Senators since the 2007-08 season and has helped to put together some very successful rosters. Along with being the assistant general manager of the Senators, Murray is also the general manager of Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
Murray has been thrust to the top of a list that has included names such as former Sabres player Rick Dudley and “the captain” Mark Messier.
When LaFontaine gave his initial press conference in November, he alluded to the fact that it could be January before the team decides on a general manager. In the absence of a real general manager, LaFontaine and Nolan have executed some interesting trades and have spent a great deal of time looking over the talent currently in the Sabres’ organization. No matter who Buffalo puts in the general manager’s office, fans should be braced for a whirlwind of activity when the hiring announcement is actually made.
There is a lot of work to do in building a Ted Nolan team, and the Sabres need to get started very soon if they want to have a chance at attracting the right free agents when July rolls around.