As touched upon Thursday, two months after showing Darcy Regier the door, the Buffalo Sabres finally have a replacement architect at the drawing board. Sabres president Pat LaFontaine formally introduced Tim Murray as the club’s new general manager Thursday. The search wasn’t handled lightly, as the organization reportedly interviewed 10 different candidates for the gig. The Sabres also hired Craig Patrick away from the Columbus Blue Jackets as a special assistant/adviser to the hockey department.
So, with a different navigator at the helm, changes are likely forthcoming for the Sabres. Turns out the former Ottawa Senators assistant GM is willing to trade “everybody”, if that’s what it takes to help his new team. What Murray actually said is: “This team is in last place right now. Everybody can be traded.” But you get the idea; no one is untouchable. And the club has 11 players on the current roster headed for unrestricted free agency, including goalie Ryan Miller, forward Matt Moulson and forward Steve Ott.
As for head coach Ted Nolan, his job appears secure … for now. Murray expressed an interest in working with Nolan for the foreseeable future.
In other NHL news, the Boston Bruins miss the defensive presence of Dennis Seidenberg. A lot. So much so, GM Peter Chiarelli may consider bringing in a Seidenberg-like replacement from elsewhere.
With Josh Harding’s health uncertainties and the inconsistent play from Niklas Backstrom, is the Minnesota Wild considering signing goalie Jose Theodore? Yessir, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
“… As I wrote in Friday’s game story, GM Chuck Fletcher may be looking to add a goaltender to provide some insurance. This is a league where it’s awfully difficult to make a trade and Fletcher also isn’t looking to throw away assets. So according to sources, the Wild is interested in maybe signing free agent Jose Theodore, who is working out daily and skating weekly in South Florida …”
Defenseman Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames is still “auditioning” for a role with Team Canada. If the buzz out of Calgary is accurate, Giordano looks to be a top replacement option for Canadian GM Steve Yzerman, should a selected D-man fall hurt.
The head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning suggests there’s a good chance superstar Steven Stamkos will be ready and able to represent Canada at the Olympics. And Jon Cooper feels strongly that Stamkos wouldn’t hold out on competing for the Lightning ahead of the tournament, just to ensure he’s able to play in Sochi.
Apparently not everyone involved with Team Russia was on board with naming Valeri Nichushkin to the Olympic squad. It seems GM Alexei Yashin trumped the wishes of head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov in selecting the Dallas Stars rookie forward. Wonder how much ice-time Nichushkin will get in Sochi under these circumstances. Our guess: not much. Also, Russian hockey heavyweight Slava Fetisov is “very sorry” Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar wasn’t picked for the national team.
The balance of aged, professional defensemen in North America remains in check as Wade Redden calls it a career while (a presumably bored) Brian Rafalski emerges from retirement to make a comeback via the ECHL Florida Everblades.
Columbus’ head coach is really pleased about having Matt Calvert back in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Especially now that fellow winger Blake Comeau is a question mark for the contest. Calvert appears fixed to skate on a line with center Brandon Dubinsky and right wing Cam Atkinson.
There’s some talk the move of shifting Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien up to forward may go beyond one practice session. Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks while serving as a winger in 2010.
James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail suggests poor decision-making – particularly on defense – by head coach Randy Carlyle is to blame for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ latest woes. The Leafs have allowed 18 goals in their past three games (all losses).