When Randy Sexton arrived in Buffalo two weeks ago, the first thing he saw out his hotel window was a trailer in Canalside. On the top was the slogan, “Let’s go, Buffalo.”
“I don’t think there’s any greater chant in our league,” the Sabres assistant general manager said. “As soon as I saw that, I knew I made the right decision.”
Sexton was absolutely ebullient Saturday as he talked about his roles with Buffalo and Rochester, where he’ll serve as GM of the Amerks. He sees a chance for greatness working alongside General Manager Jason Botterill and Steve Greeley, his fellow assistant GM.
“I’m a passionate guy and I’m passionate about hockey, but I’m really passionate about Buffalo and Rochester,” said Sexton, who worked with Botterill in Pittsburgh. “We’ve got an opportunity here to do something that is very unique. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup or two, and I want nothing more before I retire than to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo.
“I did it as a Penguin. I’d really like to do it again as a Sabre.”
The 57-year-old is aware it won’t be easy. The Sabres and Amerks have gone a combined nine seasons without the playoffs. He’s been GM of Rochester before, holding the title in 2009-10 when the Amerks were affiliated with Florida.
“We have some work to do there,” Sexton said, “but therein lies the opportunity. It’s a wonderful hockey market. We’ve got a good facility there that needs some work. We have an organization that needs some work, but we are not going to rest until we restore the Americans to what I think is their rightful place among the elite teams in the American Hockey League.
“It’ll come one day at a time. It’ll come one person at a time, but we will be relentless in our pursuit of that success.”
Sexton and Botterill got to work right away, signing established AHL players such as Kevin Porter, Seth Griffith, Matt Tennyson and Kyle Criscuolo. They’ll mentor the Sabres’ young prospects.
“Some people think development means you go with a young team, you get your head caved in every night, you lose a lot of games, but – by God – the kids are learning,” Sexton said. “We don’t subscribe to that.
“We think that you need to surround these young players with quality veterans, character people that will show them the way, show them how to be good pros. We need to surround them with a coaching staff that is going to push them every day to get better, but is also going to support them in the difficult times that they will have because there are lots of difficult days in development.”
As former general manager of Ottawa and Florida, Sexton can help Botterill with any tough days as a first-time GM. They worked together for seven years in Pittsburgh, where Sexton served as director of amateur scouting.
“When Jason asked me to come aboard, I thought this was just a perfect opportunity to start to rebuild another championship team,” Sexton said. “I know it’s kind of an old saying, but it’s too good of an opportunity to pass on.”