Terry Pegula wants to bring order to what appears to be a lawless Sabres organization.
The Buffalo owner repeatedly stressed discipline, structure, communication and character Friday morning while discussing the firing of General Manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma.
“We have to get better,” Pegula said in KeyBank Center. “Character throughout the organization, on the ice, and they have to be in a disciplined, structured environment where everybody knows what everybody’s doing and everybody’s talking. That’s how you win.”
The Sabres did not win this year, missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season. It prompted Pegula to clean house Thursday.
“We as members of the Sabres’ organization are all responsible for our success,” Pegula said, “but accountability starts with me. We are not happy with our season this year, and there are no excuses.
“Six years ago, I stood here and told the Buffalo Sabres fans that the reason for our existence was to win the Stanley Cup. That is still the truth. One team wins the Cup. We expected more this season.”
In accepting blame, Pegula said he wished he was more involved in the hiring of Murray four years ago.
"I was not involved in the last GM, coach search to a large extent, and I regret that move," Pegula said. "That’s all I’m going to say about that."
Pegula, however, authorized an extension for Murray last fall. He declined to answer what changed this season in regards to Murray.
The owner said he has not yet conducted interviews for Murray's replacement.
"Experience is going to be key in our search," Pegula said. "The plan is to build a stronger organization from top to bottom."
Pegula said he and his wife, Kim, interviewed Murray and Bylsma separately this week. The owner said he had not decided to remove the hockey people before the meetings.
"Kim and I spoke in depth with Tim and Dan separately and decided that our organization needed more discipline, structure and communication in order to be successful," Pegula said. "We will move forward with new leadership and compete in the National Hockey League for the coveted Cup."
While admitting the players' views on the situation were important, Pegula steadfastly denied a report that said star Jack Eichel would not sign an extension with the Sabres if Bylsma remained behind the bench.
"Jack’s involvement as it was reported – and I don’t know the exact words of how it was reported – but is a complete fabrication," Pegula said. "I defend Jack.
"Were players unhappy? Absolutely. We’re standing here today. We’re not in the Cup race."