The Sabres announced Thursday general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma have been fired. It didn't happen, as the club finished with a 33-37-12 record for 78 points, three fewer than previous year.
Bylsma becomes the second head coach fired by Pegula in the past five months.
Fish said Eichel "was genuinely excited" following end of season meetings with both Murray and Bylsma last week, and "felt very positive with the plans for next year's team".
This all started yesterday morning, when WGR 550 reported that Eichel had made it clear to the Sabres that he had no intention of signing an extension as long as Bylsma remained as head coach. Murray joined the club in 2014 and never got the club's roster to where it needed to be in order to compete in the Eastern Conference.
Criticizing the Buffalo Sabres' management structure for being flawed under its previous regime, team owner Terry Pegula accepted the blame and vowed Friday to take a hands-on approach to fix what went wrong. Buffalo landed the No. 2 picks in each of the following drafts and used them to select forwards Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel. The 46-year-old also spent six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2008-14, winning a Stanley Cup title in his first year. And the Sabres became the NHL's fourth team with a coaching vacancy, not including the Boston Bruins, where Bruce Cassidy is the team's interim coach.
"Our organization needs more discipline, structure and communication", Pegula said. "Or make veiled comments about teammates, like Eichel clearly has about Josh Gorges a few times when referencing players who speak but don't perform on the ice". "In terms of hockey specifics, we talked a lot about the team, the play and my play and what he thinks I can do better and what I want to work on in the offseason".
Even if Eichel never called out Bylsma and Murray by name, a demand for change can only be interpreted so many ways.