General manager Tim Murray admits the Buffalo Sabres are still rebuilding and not close to the top of this stage.
Technically speaking, the Buffalo Sabres are challenging for the playoffs. With 32 games remaining, they are eight points out of eighth place.
However, the fact of the matter is the Sabres are closer to the bottom of the conference. Combined with the fact they enter Friday’s action with the second-fewest goals in the East, the reality is they will struggle to qualify for the postseason.
With this in mind, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear Tim Murray admit his team is still rebuilding. The Sabres’ general manager made his comments on Thursday, while appearing on WGR550 with Schopp and the Bulldog.
Murray said: “We’re still somewhere in that rebuild. We’re certainly not at the bottom of it, but we’re not close to the top.
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“Learning to win is part of the process. Learning to win is hard and once you learn to win, it’s much harder to lose that.”
The question is, what will the Sabres do, with the March 1st trade deadline fast approaching? Would the 53-year old be prepared to make a trade, to maintain/boost the team’s tenuous playoff challenge?
Murray said: “We’re not going to sell the farm for a one-off playoff shot. We could still be buyers and still get a young player that fits going forward.”
With the Shawville, Quebec native effectively admitting the Sabres won’t be making a trade to boost their postseason hopes, you have to wonder at what point he made this decision? If he didn’t make it before, it’s entirely possible his mind was made up after the first game back from the NHL All-Star break.
In what was arguably the worst game of coach Dan Bylsma‘s tenure in Buffalo, the Sabres suffered a demoralizing 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, on Tuesday night. Murray called the defeat a fiasco, and admitted he had a meeting with captain Brian Gionta.
Speaking to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, Murray said: “I told him my expectations and said we could go in two or three different directions here. I know he talked to his teammates about the game and how it wasn’t acceptable.
“I talked to the coaches as well. We had a lot of meetings. I told Brian I believed in the team, in the guys that are here, but the Montreal game was unacceptable.”
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Ironically, if the Sabres fall away completely and end up being sellers at the deadline, Gionta will be one of the prime players on offer. As a pending free agent, the Sabres would like to get something for him.
However, don’t mistake this for thinking the former Ottawa Senators assistant GM wants to get rid of the winger: “If we are a seller, I will have the conversation with him at the deadline and I hope this team takes this right to the deadline.”
Understandably, there are probably a lot of Sabres’ fans who are extremely frustrated, after putting up with two consecutive last-place finishes. The team started to turn it around last season, but are clearly still short in several areas, hence their inability to perform more consistently.
In that respect, Murray admits everyone on the team can do better — players, management, coaches — but he’s not going to rush the process: “We’re not happy where we are.
“We’re trying to be better and we have been in certain areas, but when you go to the bottom, you can’t snap your fingers and learn how to win. This is a process and we’re sticking with it. You have to.”
What is your take on Murray’s comments? Did he just confirm what you already knew, or are you frustrated, believing that the Sabres should be further along in their rebuild? Share your thoughts in the comments section.