Saying "our fans deserve better," Buffalo Sabres owners Kim and Terry Pegula have fired Jason Botterill and named Kevyn Adams as the team's new general manager.
“This morning, we informed Jason Botterill he will no longer be the General Manager of the Sabres. This decision was made after many candid discussions with Jason during a full review of our hockey operation. We recognized we have philosophical differences regarding how best to put ourselves in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup. So, we decided to make this change," the Pegulas said in a statement Tuesday morning.
"We wish Jason and his family all the best moving forward, and we thank him for his time and energy devoted to our organization and to the City of Buffalo.
Botterill was fired after three seasons as general manager in which the team failed to end its nine-year playoff drought. Even in a coronavirus-affected season where the NHL plans for a 24-team playoff, the Sabres fell short of qualifying, finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Botterill came to Buffalo from Pittsburgh, where he was assistant general manager of the Penguins and helped guide the team to a Stanley Cup win in 2017. His firing continues a trend of instability among the team's leadership, with the Sabres now on their third GM and third head coach since 2017.
Just weeks ago, Kim Pegula, in an Associated Press interview, gave Botterill a vote of confidence, saying "He’s our GM. Our plan is to continue with him." She went on to say, “I realize, maybe it’s not popular with the fans, but we have to do the things that we feel are right. We have a little bit more information than maybe a fan does, some inner workings that we see some positives in.”
Adams, 45, who played 10 seasons in the NHL for six teams, has served in various roles with the Sabres since his playing career ended in 2008. His positions have included assistant coach, director of Academy of Hockey at the Pegula's LECOM Harborcenter complex, and senior vice president of business administration.
In the statement, the Pegulas says Adams and head coach Ralph Krueger "already have a close working relationship and we are excited to see what they can do together as we reconfigure our hockey operations."
"We have the benefit of this long 2020 pause to take time to reorganize and re-energize our hockey department. We recognize the importance of this offseason with so many player decisions to be made."
Botterill has faced heavy criticism for his decision making, most notably for trading star forward Ryan O'Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2018. The assets acquired in the deal have paid few dividends. More recently, the team lost one its top defenseman prospects, Lawrence Pilut, who signed a deal to play in the KHL.
The Pegulas' statement goes on to say "Our fans deserve better, and we are all tasked with the burden to improve and provide them a consistent, contending team for years to come.”
Assistant GMs Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley have also been fired and late Tuesday, it was announced that the entire Rochester Americans coaching staff was let go, including head coach Chris Taylor and assistant coaches Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen