If Dan Bylsma remains the Sabres’ coach – he is today, though a meeting between General Manager Tim Murray and owner Terry Pegula looms next week – Murray wants Bylsma to be more demanding of his players and also get to know them better.
“We have to make more demands,” Murray said Wednesday at his season-ending news conference. “I have to make more demands of Dan. Dan has to make more demands of players. I personally have to make more demands of myself, and we intend to do that.”
The organization was too loose in its rules and standards, which was one of the many reasons the Sabres missed the playoffs.
“Top to bottom in the organization, we understand it was a very disappointing season,” Murray said in KeyBank Center. “I’m the general manager of the team, so I guess that’s top of the food chain when it comes to hockey. So I stand here and take full responsibility for our position, our standings and how it finished.
“There’s going to be a review top to bottom.”
Murray finished exit interviews with the players Wednesday and will compile his notes before flying to Florida to meet Pegula. The GM knows he wants changes in the player-coach relationship, including more communication from the coaches.
“Maybe they can put a coffee in their hand once in a while and do two hours of video instead of three and get out and get to know our players, talk to our players,” Murray said. “It’s about coaching individuals a little more and coaching system a little less.
“The players have legitimate gripes about the coach," Murray added. "I think players have some legitimate gripes about the way our team is built, and that’s me. I think the players have some gripes that aren’t legitimate and are excuses.
“We’re all to blame.”
In other news:
• Murray is impressed by the development of Jack Eichel.
“I made a promise to him that I would do the best that I could to make the team around him better and that we will be a long-term playoff team,” Murray said.
• He has interest in bringing back captain Brian Gionta on a one-year deal.
• He would not say whether the illness that struck Kyle Okposo will keep Buffalo’s top right winger out next season.
• He has had talks with prospect Cal Petersen but is not sure if the Notre Dame goaltender plans to leave school as a junior and join the Sabres or any other NHL team by becoming a free agent.
• Injuries were a big reason for missing the playoffs, but a lack of depth made them worse.
“I haven’t put us in the position that we can withstand that yet,” Murray said. “I hope to one day be able to do that, and develop and create enough depth that we can do that.”