Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Bills, will formally welcome the football team's new general manager on Friday. The day before, the Pegulas did the same for their hockey team, the Sabres, as they introduced newly-hired Jason Botterill as that franchise's GM.
Botterill comes to Buffalo from Pittsburgh, where he spent the last ten seasons, most recently as Associate General Manager. During his stay with the Penguins organization, the team won two Stanley Cup championships and is currently contending for another, having advanced Wednesday into the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He takes over the GM job from Tim Murray, who was fired last month along with head coach Dan Bylsma. Botterill says the Sabres have young talent at center and defense.
"The type of team I'd like to create here, in conjunction with the head coach that we bring in, is a team that plays a high tempo," Botterill said. "A lot of times people think high-tempo is 'dump and chase.' No, it's a high-tempo puck possession game."
Botterill, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, spent three seasons with the Sabres organization in the early 2000s.
When he discussed the decision to clean house within the Sabres front office last month, Terry Pegula explained that the franchise needed leadership that would bring structure, discipline, character and communication. He likes Botterill's experience in numerous roles in a hockey front office.
"He's pretty much done everything you can do in hockey, from being a player, being involved in evaluating, drafting, developing and then molding those players between two teams," Pegula said, referring to the Penguins and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Botterill would like to improve the relationship between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans.
"I think one of the successes, from the organization I'm coming from, is the relationship between Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh," Botterill said. "We want to re-strengthen the relationship with Rochester and Buffalo because for us, developing an organization that's going to be year-in year-out successful in the National Hockey League, you have to have that development and that in place."
Botterill will very quickly get very busy. In addition to finding a new head coach, he must prepare for next month's NHL Entry Draft. He must also decide which players will be exposed as candidates for selection in an expansion draft for the league's new Vegas Golden Knights franchise.