Friedman: 'The days were numbered for Jason Botterill'

The Buffalo Sabres sent some shockwaves throughout the National Hockey League on Tuesday when the team announced the firing of general manager Jason Botterill.

As his replacement, Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula decided to make an in-house hire with Kevyn Adams to become the full-time general manager.

Since then, the organization has gone through some sweeping changes as 22 hockey operations staff members have been let go, including assistant general managers Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley, director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski, and Rochester Americans head coach Chris Taylor.
All of these moves come as the Pegulas said they look to become more leaner with their hockey operations department, starting with the addition of Adams, who they say they trust and felt comfortable with him being the right choice for the next general manager.

Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman joined Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet on The Instigators for his weekly Thursday appearance on WGR. He provided his thoughts on what the final decision came down to with firing Botterill, the timing of the organizational changes, and what is next for the Sabres in the immediate future.

Here is some of what he had to say:


Friedman on how the Sabres came to the decision of firing Jason Botterill:
"There's a lot of things to unpack. I just think that the more I look at it, the more I think that ever since Kevyn Adams was brought in, the Pegulas know him, they trust him. If you look back at Tim Graham's article from The Athletic in April, someone sent me a quote from there and it's one where [Kim Pegula] basically says that they trusted some people and it didn't work out and they were going to fix that. I think that the days were numbered for Jason Botterill right from that time, and that the Pegulas felt that some of the advice on hiring they were from the NHL was poor, they regretted it, and they were going to go internal to people that they know and they trust. That's kind of the way it went."


Friedman on the timing of the decision to fire Botterill:

"I didn't think it was going to happen now. I thought Botterill would get one more year. A couple of things that I understand; I understand the Pegulas did a top-to-bottom review of their organization, I heard that they looked over some of the schedules of some of the scouts and people of that and they felt that some of them were light, that they didn't need as many people to do it, and that's one of the reasons they started at looking at some of these changes. I believe that Botterill knew that some of these changes were potentially coming and he fought them, and I think that ultimately he said he wasn't going to do it and they said, 'Okay, you're out.'"


Friedman on the first order of business for Kevyn Adams:

"First of all, he had to let every body know who was staying and who was going. They've kind of done that, and now you start to say, 'Okay, this is our group for now and this is how it's going to go moving forward. Here's what everyone's responsibilities are going to be.' Then I think after that, I think what you'll see Kevyn Adams will do starting over the next week or so is start to say, 'Okay, these are the holes that we have to fix, and this is how we're going to go about doing them.' I would think that he's going to ask for advice, is there anybody available we should talk to? I'm sure he will call around to ask some teams. But I wouldn't be surprised if some people that he knows around the Sabres and their various organizations are also people that he's going to talk to about this."


Friedman on some possible options for Adams to add to the organization going forward:

"You have a vacancy in the American Hockey League now because you let Chris Taylor go, and I wouldn't be surprised if a guy like Adam Mair, who has been on the bench there, is asked if he's interested in that position. I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Ellis and Brian Gionta, there are some development positions open, I wonder if they'd be interested. I do think that Adams will ask about some executive type people. Botterill had two assistant [general managers], I don't see that, I see maybe one. I think you're going to have to add some scouting. I know you want to do video scouting there now, but you can't only do that... The two names I mentioned are guys with Buffalo connections - one is Rick Dudley and the other is Scott Luce. Dudley works for Carolina [Hurricanes], Luce works for Vegas [Golden Knights]. I don't know what their availability would be, but I wouldn't be surprised if the people that have ties to the Sabres would say they'd like to help out.

[Adams has] got time. You know your draft isn't going to be until October, you don't think. I don't know if they're thinking of having any kind of development camp in the short-term or anything like that, but you have a bit of time for figure this out. I think that's what he's going to do."


You can listen to the entire interview below: