By JOHN WAWROW, AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres cleaned house Thursday, firing general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma after the youthful team missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.
Owner Terry Pegula made the announcement after he spent the past two days holding season-ending meetings with Murray.
“We want to thank Tim and Dan for their hard work and efforts that they have put in during their tenures with the club,” said Pegula, who is expected to talk with reporters on Friday. “We wish them luck. We have begun the process to fill these positions immediately.”
Murray had completed his third full season as GM, and was responsible for overseeing a top-to-bottom rebuilding project in Buffalo. Bylsma completed his second season. Both had three years left on their respective contracts.
After finishing 35-36-11 last season, the Sabres took a step back this past year. They went 33-37-1, finished last in the Atlantic Division standings and will now turn to searching for their fifth coach since Lindy Ruff was fired in February 2013.
Bylsma is out of a job for the second time in three years. He was part of a front-office purge in Pittsburgh in the spring of 2014, when the Penguins also fired GM Ray Shero. Bylsma is most noted for taking over the Penguins in February 2009 and leading them to win the Stanley Cup four months later.
Murray was hired in January 2014 to oversee a team overhaul that included purging high-priced veterans and rebuilding through youth.
Murray hinted last week that his future in Buffalo, and that of Bylsma, were uncertain. Though he backed Bylsma in returning for a third season, Murray cautioned that the decision was ultimately Pegula’s.
Murray accepted the blame for the team’s struggles, but noted it had to be shared with the coaching staff and players. Murray said Bylsma needed to be more demanding of his players, and noted players needed to be more accountable after a season in which the team collapsed during a 1-5-2 skid that essentially knocked the Sabres out of contention in mid-February.
“It needs fixing,” Murray said. “We have to make more demands. So I have to make more demands of Dan. Dan has to make more demands of players. And I personally have to make more demands of myself.”
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