BUFFALO, N.Y. – When Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula fired their entire managerial staff of hockey operations on Tuesday, June 16, there was also a trickle-down effect to the Sabres AHL Affiliate, the Rochester Americans.
The Pegulas not only handed pink slips to Buffalo GM Jason Botterill, two assistant general managers, and numerous scouts and player development coaches, but also to Americans Head Coach Chris Taylor and his assistants Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen.
Keith Wozniak, lead Rochester Americans contributor for LGA585.com, said the ultimate house cleaning of 22 hockey ops and coaching staff was very much unexpected, to say the least.
“The entire day was a complete surprise. The Amerks had been a top team in the league under their coaching staff. Chris Taylor was an AHL All-Star coach this past season. Even after the Sabres announced a new management staff, it was still a surprise. Pretty remarkable to see a winning coaching staff fired.”
The new management staff mentioned by Wozniak is led by newly minted GM Kevyn Adams, who was hired by the Sabres organization in 2019 as the Senior Vice President of Business Administration. Adams was also an assistant coach for Buffalo from 2011-13.
Wozniak elaborated on the firing of Taylor, saying he had become a fixture amongst the Rochester faithful both on the ice and out in the general public.
“In a minor league city, it’ll be tough to win back the confidence of fans after firing Chris Taylor. (He) has been a part of the team for a combined 15 seasons, dating back to the 1999-2000 season. He’s been a face of the franchise, and more importantly, the community. The solution sounds simple in theory – winning fixes everything, especially a championship.”
Lastly, there has been some backlash on social media from both Buffalo and Rochester fans regarding the Pegulas, who have owned both teams since 2011. Wozniak points out the fruitless postseason endeavors of the Sabres and Amerks since the Pegulas’ ownership tenure began, and how a rotating cast of characters in front of them raises some concerns.
“Sports is all about winning, and besides the regular season, the Sabres and Amerks have not won a playoff series since the Pegulas purchased the teams. After a vote of confidence three weeks ago for Jason Botterill to the house cleaning today, (their criticism is) all deserved.
“General Managers and coaches don’t get a free pass, but at the same time, this ownership group has gone through more GM’s and coaches than anyone else. There’s no one left to criticize besides ownership until things turn around.”