Jason Botterill is no stranger to hockey executives. With 10 years of experience in the Penguins’ front office, including eight as the associate/assistant general manager, he’s met plenty of people.
But for the first time, he’s The Man. When the Sabres’ general manager makes calls, he’s speaking as Buffalo’s top boss.
The first month has gone well.
“The last couple weeks have been very busy for myself, but I’ve had the chance to settle into my new role as GM of the Buffalo Sabres,” Botterill said. “There’s still obviously a feeling-out process of getting to know players, getting to know staff members, but my dialogues with other GMs in preparation for the expansion draft and the draft and free agency, I felt very well prepared.”
Botterill certainly hasn’t had time to ease into the job. He needed to hire a coach. The protection list for the expansion draft is due Saturday. The NHL Draft is next weekend. Free agency starts July 1.
He’s had help.
“The amount of resources this organization has is very impressive, from an analytics standpoint, from pro scouts,” Botterill said. “I’ve been getting a lot of great information. Is there still a feeling-out process? Yes, but I’ve gotten a lot of information.”
The coaching search ended Thursday with the hiring of Phil Housley. Buffalo was the last team to hire a coach because Botterill wanted to wait for all the candidates.
The one he chose made him wait until the very end of the NHL season.
“It was a difficult process, but I certainly enjoyed the process,” Botterill said. “It is time consuming to sit down with people, but I was blown away with the quality of the candidates and just the dialogue. I certainly enjoyed the process, just you have so many other things going on it was difficult.
“You’re following the teams that were going into the conference finals and the finals. You certainly knew this was possible, but it’s also what draws you to these guys is having teams in the finals. You want to bring a winning attitude into the organization, and you want to bring winners to the Buffalo Sabres.”