Babcock’s last-minute choice — Toronto over Buffalo — looking genius in hindsight

‘If living in Yorkville, being paid $6 million US a year — which is, give or take a dollar, $8 million in Canadian funds — coaching the Leafs in the playoffs and probably being up for coach of the year is “just surviving,” then the rest of us have a whole lot to worry about. But Buffalo and kidding aside, the decision made by Mr. and Mrs. Babcock has truly worked out in their favour and the Maple Leafs’ favour.’

Sabres should take page out of Maple Leafs’ blueprint

‘After decades of the Leafs being plagued by meddling ownership, the hiring of Brendan Shanahan as team president in April 2014 changed the outlook forever. A Hall of Fame player who had gone on to spend time working at the NHL’s head office in New York, Shanahan was given the keys to the franchise.’

Dan Bylsma fired in sweeping housecleaning by Buffalo Sabres

‘Bylsma, who had three years and $9 million left on his contract, was let go along with general manager Tim Murray in a surprising sweep of the Sabres’ front office.’

For the Sabres, dysfunction starts with ownership

‘A disconnect between Bylsma and players was evident. In the modern game, communication is the currency of coaching. Success doesn’t happen unless players buy in. Players don’t have to like the coach, but they have to believe in him.’

Buffalo Sabres fire GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma: Three things to know

‘Eichel, via his representatives, denied that was the case. But even if the report was largely untrue, it made sense. Why would Eichel — or any young prospect in the Sabres organization, for that matter — want to wallow in the perennial disappointment that has clouded Buffalo for more than half a decade? That’s not to say Bylsma or Murray were directly responsible for every Sabres shortcoming as of late, but the atmosphere of the team suggested change was inevitable.’

The Buffalo Sabres clean house, fire coach Dan Bylsma and GM Tim Murray

‘The decision comes following a disappointing season in which the Sabres finished with just 78 points in the standings, worst in the Atlantic division. Sabres owner Terry Pegula released a statement shortly after the official announcement and will be available to the media at KeyBank Center on Friday morning.’

Jack Eichel’s agent says Buffalo Sabres star not pushing for a coaching change

‘The question is if a reported rift between head coach Dan Bylsma and Eichel will impact his decision to sign a long-term extension in Buffalo.’

Iowa native CJ Smith talks about making his NHL debut

‘”I think I have a good chance to make the big club,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of it is going to come down to training camp. I guess I can’t guarantee anything, but if I do get sent down to the AHL that’ll be OK. I’ll just have to work my way through it to get back up, because my goal is to play in the NHL.”‘

Time to translate Sabres GM Tim Murray’s season-ending press conference

‘Translation: Well, anyone who watched this group in 2016-17 knows the defense needs a lot of work.’

Monday’s Tampa Bay Coverage

Lightning ends season with win (Tampa Bay Times)
Lightning blames early season complacency for playoff miss (Tampa Bay Times)
Bolts Close Season With 4-2 Win Over Buffalo (WDAE-AM)
Mishkin: Lightning 4, Sabres 2; hightlights (TampaBayLightning.com)
Burns: 3 Things from a season finale victory (TampaBayLightning.com)
Photo gallery (NHL.com)

Will Dan Bylsma survive after disappointing season with Buffalo Sabres?

‘The job future of the 46-year-old from Grand Haven is considered shaky as the Sabres finish the season Sunday at Tampa Bay. They best they can do is 80 points, or one point fewer than last year.’

Sunday’s Tampa Bay Coverage

It’s the end of the line as Lightning host Sabres (The Sports Xchange)
Preview: Sabres at Lightning (NHL.com)
Lightning vs. Sabres: Projected lines; injuries (TampaBayLightning.com)

Sunday’s Florida Coverage

Florida Panthers celebrate end of their ‘season to forget’ with victory in home finale (Miami Herald)
Florida Panthers giving youngsters a shot as Shawn Thornton says goodbye (Miami Herald)
Photo gallery (Miami Herald)
Panthers give Shawn Thornton victorious sendoff in final game, end six-game skid (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Retiring Panther Shawn Thornton: Still a place for enforcers in the NHL (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Photo gallery (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Photo gallery (NHL.com)

Saturday’s Florida Coverage

Preview: Sabres at Panthers; Saturday, 7 p.m. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Sabres, Panthers closing out the season shorthanded (The Sports Xchange)
Preview: Sabres at Panthers (NHL.com)

Islanders players concerned for hospitalized ex-teammate Kyle Okposo

‘“It’s tough,” Cal Clutterbuck said before Thursday night’s game against the Hurricanes. “I don’t know much more about it than anybody else. Obviously, the concern is just with him and his family. It’s a tough time. He’s got two young kids [ages 1 and 3] and a wife who’s obviously really concerned, as we all are.”‘