As the Buffalo Sabres struggle through another calamitous season, first-year general manager Kevyn Adams said that coach Ralph Krueger's status is being evaluated and that frustrated star center Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.
The Sabres are in last place in the East Division with a 6-12-3 record. Their .357 points percentage would be their lowest since the 2014-15 season. Buffalo has failed to qualify for the playoffs in nine straight seasons. MoneyPuck, a hockey odds website, gives the Sabres a 3.1% chance of making the playoffs, second-worst in the NHL, ahead of only Detroit.
"It's just flat-out not good enough. I'm angry. I'd hope all of you are angry. I'd hope all our fans are angry. Because that means you care, and that's a good place to start," Adams said. "I've been empowered by [owners] Terry and Kim Pegula to fix this, and that's what I'm going to do."
One widely speculated fix would be to fire Krueger, who has gone 36-43-11 (.461) since taking over the Buffalo bench last season. He is the team's sixth head coach since 2012.
Adams said Krueger, like everything else around the team, is being evaluated as the season continues. Adams said he's looking at decisions that would impact the Sabres in the short term and long term, but that the belief the players have in Krueger is something he has had to balance in his evaluation process.
"We're very honest with each other," Adams said. "He understands the situation that we're in is unacceptable, that it's flat-out not good enough."
There has been speculation about whether Adams could even make the decision to fire Krueger, given the managerial structure of the organization and the power wielded by owners Terry and Kim Pegula over hockey operations. But Adams said he has "full authority" on hockey decisions, although he speaks with "Terry and Kim about everything."
The other big topic of discussion was Eichel, the 24-year-old franchise player who is struggling through his worst goal-scoring campaign in six NHL seasons, with two goals in 19 games. Eichel does have 16 points.
Adams wouldn't confirm if Eichel is playing through an injury.
"I never would get into what a player is dealing with day to day," he said. "If there are updates, certainly would always be transparent for those type of things."
Last offseason, there was chatter that Eichel was available in a trade and that he had asked out of Buffalo. His agent, Peter Fish, told TSN's Bob McKenzie that "Jack wants to win, he's frustrated, but, no, he doesn't want out."
Adams said despite Eichel's frustration, "he has not asked for a trade" from the Sabres.
"Jack is someone that I've bounced things off of," Adams said. "He's talked to me. We have an open dialogue."
As far as trade talks involving Eichel, Adams reiterated what he said in the offseason: Teams are calling him, but he's not shopping Eichel.
"Jack is one of the best players in the world," he said. "If people are going to make a phone call and ask, of course. But that's the extent of it. For me, Jack is someone when you see the kind of dynamic difference-maker he can be, there's not many in the league like him."