(WGR 550) – Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams spoke on Friday and there was no question about how angry he is about the state of his team.
In his opening statement, Adams tried to relay just how he feels.
“I’m just going to speak from the heart here: I’m not happy. It’s unacceptable where we’re at right now," Adams said.
“Part of my job is to raise the standard, the expectations and the accountability in this organization and we’re not where we need to be.”
As expected, Ralph Krueger’s head coaching status was brought up right away.
“Everything is being evaluated," Adams said. "Ralph and I talk multiple times every day, and he understands that the situation we’re in is unacceptable, and everybody does.”
Many people think that Krueger runs the hockey department and that Adams doesn’t have the power to fire the coach. Adams denied those claims when asked about them.
“I have full authority on hockey decisions. Part of me stepping into this role is to evaluate, and it needs to get better,” Adams said.
You’ve all seen that this current team has no life, and player after player calls them out for their lack of compete. The only reason Adams stayed in the NHL for 10 years is the way he competed and went to work every day on the ice. Adams mentioned that he doesn’t see that here.
“Competitiveness and passion are a really important part of being a successful team," Adams said. "At the end of the day, it’s about out-competing the guy across from you, and if you have that in the DNA of your team then a lot of good things can happen. But you’re right, it all hasn’t been good enough. The passion hasn’t been good enough, the compete hasn’t been good enough, and you have to fix it.”
As I reported back in June, despite being fed up with losing, Jack Eichel never asked to be traded out of Buffalo. Adams said that hasn’t changed, and they talk frequently, where he bounces things off of him.
“Jack is one of the best players in the world, period," Adams added. "If people are going to make a phone call and ask, of course, but that’s the extent of it.”
It’s looking more and more, to me, as if Adams is going to have to just rip the whole thing down. Adams said he doesn’t think that’s necessary.
“I don’t believe in a full-fledged rebuild, where you say it’s going to take us this many years. It’s just flat-out not good enough. I’m angry, and I would hope that all of you are, and I would hope that all our fans are because that means you care.
“We need to be better, and I’ve been empowered by Kim and Terry Pegula to fix this. That’s what I’m going to do.”
So how does this get fixed? Adams pulled no punches, and the players won’t like what they hear.
“I don’t think we’ve been competitive enough in all areas of the ice," Adams said. "I think we’ve shown pockets of it, at times, but not a consistent hunger, battle or competitiveness throughout the games. We give up too many Grade-A scoring chances, which means we’re not hard enough in our defensive zone, and we’re not creating enough Grade-A scoring chances, which means we’re not hungry enough to get to the net. That’s just battle and will.”
You can count on one hand, and you won’t run out of fingers, how many 60-minute efforts the Sabres have had this season.
“We need to have a better identity as a group," Adams said. "We need to have everybody, whether it’s your skill or it’s your harder players or anyone in-between, still has to be tenacious, hard on pucks and you have to fight for every inch. We have to absolutely raise that level.”
Excuses were brought up during the conference call, and that seemed to make Adams even angrier.
“I will never, ever have a team that makes excuses or talks about, 'oh, my confidence is down...' Focus on what you can control, and what you can control is going out there and working as hard as you can in every practice and every game, and that’s it," Adams said. "Confidence can build from that, so for me, I will never tolerate excuses. I won’t tolerate the fact that we’ve had injuries or [COVID-19] or adversity. So have other teams, and you’ve got to battle through it and you’ve got to find a way.”
Listening to that, it could mean we will see a lot of trades before next season, because Adams has quite a few excuse makers on this team.
Any of you that have heard me on the air a lot have heard me talk about how Krueger is very inflexible when it comes his system. I believe good coaches adapt to their players, and Krueger just keeps beating his head against the wall with having his players play a system that they’re not capable of playing.
“All systems can work, but the key is everybody is buying in, and is all-in at all times, doing it every shift game-in and game-out," Adams said of that. "That’s when a system functions at its highest level. What we need to get out of is we’re caught in-between sometimes.”
The Sabres will get back to game action on Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders in the second of a three-game set in Uniondale. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. EST.