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This Sabres losing culture nonsense needs to go, it's BS

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I didn't think LGR was saying culture doesn't matter. Rather he was venting about is the recent run of "blow it all up, it's all about bad culture," posts.

In my view, the current record is more a reflection of bad players, than bad culture. The Sabres have made a concerted to repair their culture, but those efforts have been undermined by their inability to win enough hockey games and the resulting Catch 22 effect.

Understandably, the fans tend to conflate the failures of the past 2.5 years with the failures of the previous leadership group, but they aren't the same thing. This bad January isn't because of bad culture, it's because our only decent goalie got hurt, our two best goal scoring wingers have combined for zero goals, and our roster isn't strong enough or deep enough to overcome those types of hits.

Tim Murray was fired for allowing a terrible culture to fester. If Jason Botterill is fired, it won't because he failed to provide discipline, structure and communication, it will be because he failed to acquire enough good hockey players.

@Neo has it right: The other elements are necessary, but ultimately talent trumps all.

Edited by dudacek
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8 minutes ago, Neo said:

Just to add.  I believe Pegula thinks he has his Beane and McDermott in his hockey club.  Botterill’s seat is hotter, but he’ll get another year.

I just hope Terry realizes that you can take either one of Beane's drafts, 2018 OR 2019, and find more promising results in rounds 3 through 7 of just one of those drafts, much less including all of the other facets that go into being an NFL GM, than you can for Botterill's totality of moves in three offseasons as Sabres GM

Results matter and Jason has crafted the worst chance-generating offense in the NHL over a span of three years despite entering his tenure with Kane, ROR, Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson already in the organization

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2 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I didn't think LGR was saying culture doesn't matter. Rather he was venting about is the recent run of "blow it all up, it's all about bad culture," posts.

In my view, the current record is more a reflection of bad players, than bad culture. The Sabres have made a concerted to repair their culture, but those efforts have been undermined by their inability to win enough hockey games and the resulting Catch 22 effect.

Understandably, the fans tend to conflate the failures of the past 2.5 years with the failures of the previous leadership group, but they aren't the same thing. This bad January isn't because of bad culture, it's because our only decent goalie got hurt, our two best goal scoring wingers have combined for zero goals, and our roster isn't strong enough or deep enough to overcome those types of hits.

Tim Murray was fired for allow a terrible culture to fester. If Jason Botterill is fired, it won't because he failed to provide discipline, structure and communication, it will be because he failed to acquire enough good hockey players.

@Neo has it right: The other elements are necessary, but ultimately talent trumps all.

Agreed. We have bottom 5 at best 10 talent on this team. All the good culture in the world doesn't get us to where we'd all like.

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I fully agree that Ralph and Jason have been big on fixing the culture. 

Has it worked?

Do we think we're on the right side of the river at this point, having struggled through it but survived, building for the future with our new culture? Or am I going to keep reading more of these stories about how awful the culture is here this offseason, like I did in the ROR offseason, and during the collapse last year, and in the spurt of national attention we got last week? 

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13 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I just hope Terry realizes that you can take either one of Beane's drafts, 2018 OR 2019, and find more promising results in rounds 3 through 7 of just one of those drafts, much less including all of the other facets that go into being an NFL GM, than you can for Botterill's totality of moves in three offseasons as Sabres GM

Results matter and Jason has crafted the worst chance-generating offense in the NHL over a span of three years despite entering his tenure with Kane, ROR, Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson already in the organization

I think Terry believes (and has been reinforced in his belief by the Bills) that consistency, stability and staying the course with good people are virtues needed to work his way out of this mess. But he also has to understand that being a good leader, a good administrator and a good person does not make you a good general manager.

He's really between a rock and a hard place here because the situation is starting to dictate that he make a call on Jason's hockey acumen, which is something he's simply not qualified to do.

Edited by dudacek
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3 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I think Terry believes (and has been reinforced in his belief by the Bills) that consistency, stability and staying the course with good people are virtues needed to work his way out of this mess. But he also has to understand that being a good leader, a good administrator and a good person does not make you a good general manager.

He's really between a rock and a hard place here because the situation is starting to dictate that he make a call on Jason's hockey acumen, which is something he's simply not qualified to do.

Remember how he started out talking about the Rooneys in Pittsburgh in the early days and the idea that "panic doesn't seem to be working"? That Terry disappeared after the decision to keep Lindy and Darcy. I have no doubt that Terry is the Terry that Terry wants Terry to be. That, plus the idea that the Botterill hire is one that Terry owns (as opposed to not having much to do with the hiring of GMTM, according to Terry), buys Botterill another year.

(All of my English teachers are rolling in their graves, even the living ones.)

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5 minutes ago, dudacek said:

He's really between a rock and a hard place here because the situation is starting to dictate that he make a call on Jason's hockey acumen

By all accounts, JBot was able to keep a loaded Pittsburgh roster (Crosby, Malkin, Fleury) well-stocked for years with a constant stream of JAGs who were better than JAGs (Rust, Sheary for a season, etc.). But he didn't have to build up that Pitt roster. When JBot became AGM in Pittsburgh, Bylsma was coaching Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, and... Miro!... to their first Cup victory coming out of their tank. They would get 2 more Cups because he was good managing their cap, but again, never had to worry about replacing 2 elite centers, an elite goalie, and a solid team, he had them. We could argue he had 1C ROR and soon-to-be 1C Eichel here, but undid it. So... the jury is still out if he has the acumen to build nearly from scratch. This offseason he can replace half the forwards with UFAs though, so the time has come.

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A rough definition of culture — the reaction of a player drafted by, traded to or wooed by Buffalo.

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5 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Remember how he started out talking about the Rooneys in Pittsburgh in the early days and the idea that "panic doesn't seem to be working"? That Terry disappeared after the decision to keep Lindy and Darcy. I have no doubt that Terry is the Terry that Terry wants Terry to be. That, plus the idea that the Botterill hire is one that Terry owns (as opposed to not having much to do with the hiring of GMTM, according to Terry), buys Botterill another year.

(All of my English teachers are rolling in their graves, even the living ones.)

Especially when Jason will say that the coach is in place, the cap space ducks are all finally in a row and the Lukkonnen/Mittelstadt/Cozens/Thompson/Dahlin/Jokiharju young guns corps he has assembled are all ready to blossom on his blank canvas this summer.

It seems most likely to me that Botterill gets the summer to reset and at least half next season to prove himself.

Related, time is really starting to reveal Botterill as an NHL-approved, good corporate soldier hire — an antithesis of Murray's horseflesh-trading rink rat.

One set of flaws for another.

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36 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I just hope Terry realizes that you can take either one of Beane's drafts, 2018 OR 2019, and find more promising results in rounds 3 through 7 of just one of those drafts, much less including all of the other facets that go into being an NFL GM, than you can for Botterill's totality of moves in three offseasons as Sabres GM

Results matter and Jason has crafted the worst chance-generating offense in the NHL over a span of three years despite entering his tenure with Kane, ROR, Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson already in the organization

Agree ...  

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Uhm, if the problem is that management is bringing in players that suck and lose games then management has created a "losing culture" by bringing in players that suck and lose games. That's what a culture is: "the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group."

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Just now, Skibum said:

OK, remember when they had Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane on offense and they still suckt?

You're talking about the season in which they constructed the worst slate of depth forwards a non-tank Sabres team has likely ever seen, with all of Nolan, Wilson, Josefson, Griffith, Moulson, injured/bad Zemgus and Larry, Bailey/Baptiste, Pouliot, Rodrigues, and Criscuolo got serious minutes throughout the season, while Beaulieu, Falk, Gorges, Antipin, and Nelson were key parts of the defense, to say nothing of the Tennyson disaster, coupled with their starting goalie's mental health unraveling and their backup goalie's sub-replacement level stats giving the team bottom-of-the-barrel goaltending? Combined with the fact that Eichel was not ready for the competition he was seeing, so that even though he scored a lot, he was scored on a lot more than that? 

It's nowhere near as simple as "well we sukked when these guys were here soooo" no matter what you're arguing. 

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My over-simplification is that if Hutton didn't completely stink for near 4 months, there wouldn't be any  losing culture talk. instead we would be talking about how important tonight's game is in the playoff race.

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

It's nowhere near as simple as "well we sukked when these guys were here soooo" no matter what you're arguing. 

Those names...

I was gonna say you forgot Pouliot, but then I re-read it. And sure enough, there he is. Just as visible as he was on the ice. Those '16-'17 and '17-'18 rosters were pretty awful at forward, even with Kane, ROR, and baby Eichel and Reino. The rest of the players had some serviceable types and some aging out vets (Gionta, Pominville), but GMTM had emptied his cupboard for his final season and JBot did not restock it that first year.

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22 minutes ago, DarthEbriate said:

Those names...

I was gonna say you forgot Pouliot, but then I re-read it. And sure enough, there he is. Just as visible as he was on the ice. Those '16-'17 and '17-'18 rosters were pretty awful at forward, even with Kane, ROR, and baby Eichel and Reino. The rest of the players had some serviceable types and some aging out vets (Gionta, Pominville), but GMTM had emptied his cupboard for his final season and JBot did not restock it that first year.

And that is a reasonable counter argument for Botterill: that the organization was completely bereft of depth and he was going to rebuild it the right way, through drafting and development, and that was going to take three years minimum to rebuild to just a non-expansion  level while he flushed “the culture and the bad contracts” (Lehner, O’Reilly, Kane, Bogosian, Nylander) out of the organization.

It would hold more weight if so many of his stop-gaps (Vesey, Sheary, Hutton, Sobotka, Berglund) hadn’t failed so thoroughly, his key pick-ups (Skinner, Montour, Miller, Housley) were contributing more, and his  touted kids (Thompson, Mittelstadt and to a lesser extent Dahlin) had shown more significant development.

Edited by dudacek
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7 hours ago, WildCard said:

Losing culture is a thing. These are people, not just numbers and robots. Going in to somewhere highly stressful that you hate day after day with no expectation or desire to improve is a real thing. It's why companies, including the Sabres, spend millions on culture activities. 

Is it the only thing, or the cause of everything? Of course not. But it's a hurdle to overcome nonetheless. We can't completely dismiss it because it's not the most important aspect or driving factor behind our issues.

I totally agree with this.  

Successful organizations in all pursuits, not just sports, go out of their way to create a positive culture, and for good reason.

Look at the effort problem this team has.  They come out flat or play 1 or 2 strong periods or one good game and then 2 bad ones...I'm talking effort, not results.  

That is a direct product of "culture" IMO.  

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Their culture is one where something doesn't go their way and the hang their heads with a "here we go again" attitude.    As a result they give up goals in bunches.  This is the left over stink from the tank.

With a winning culture that doesn't happen, or happens very rarely.

They're trying to break out of it, just not quite there yet. 

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Does anything define the culture more in Buffalo than an acceptance of losing? Either the complete teardown that was the tank, knowing that losing would be inevitable; an "evaluation" year for Housley, which naturally clashed with an all-out effort to win, and maybe a version of that is happening now with RaKru (the Skinner "test," who fits where and do they fit at all?); Botterill sitting on his hands when a team that won 10 games in a row looked for help and the GM decided this wasn't the year, either; and the latter might still be happening — it's all about next year, after all.

It has to be a horrifying experience for these ulta-competitive athletes. We'll turn it on at some point in the future? It's how they play most games. Sometimes I don't blame them a'tall.

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So, my take on this.

First.  Culture is a thing.  Every workplace or family or any other group of people has a culture.  It’s just the general set of practices/ how things are generally done/ how situations are generally handled.  Some cultures are more conducive to success than others.

Second.  It’s really hard to establish a culture where everyone pushes each other to be successful when the group lacks the needed tools for success and knows it.  Be that a workplace that’s chronically understaffed, lacks the tools needed to do the job, or a hockey team that is consistently lacking in talent and losing a lot of games as a result.

It’s hard to stay fully invested when you are consistently let down by a part of your team.  For example: depth scoring or goaltending.  In the past couple years, I’ve seen the Sabres “quit” to an extent in the 2nd half.  Just putting forth a lot of really poor, uninspired performances.  I think that is probably a sign of a poor culture.

I don’t believe that Botterill has upgraded the roster talent to the extent that it should be expected to be a playoff team.  I think that makes it harder to improve the culture, which is a stated goal of the organization.  As this season winds down, I’ll be watching for signs that the team culture is improving.  Will they have multiple long losing streaks punctuated by dispassionate performances and finish with 70-75 points?  Will they keep putting out solid efforts, winning a couple/losing a couple and finish with 85 points?

That’s what I’m looking for.

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4 hours ago, nfreeman said:

Well, a move can be direct and decisive but still ill-conceived and disastrous -- kinda like the tank.

And while it doesn't really matter anymore, it does kinda matter because there is a disturbingly high number of people who still think it was the right move, and who therefore would support doing it again.

Well, tearing it down now would be easy.  There are 18 players with no contract for next year.  Of the ones remaining, only 2 will get you anything of major value. 1 will get you a mediocre player and perhaps a pick.  So... no, it would be a monumentally bad idea.  But I'm, not convinced that back then it was all bad.  It wasn't all bad until they followed it up with what turned out to be a monumentally stupid "hold my beer" move.

 

2 hours ago, Randall Flagg said:

I just hope Terry realizes that you can take either one of Beane's drafts, 2018 OR 2019, and find more promising results in rounds 3 through 7 of just one of those drafts, much less including all of the other facets that go into being an NFL GM, than you can for Botterill's totality of moves in three offseasons as Sabres GM

Results matter and Jason has crafted the worst chance-generating offense in the NHL over a span of three years despite entering his tenure with Kane, ROR, Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson already in the organization

So yes, and 3 of those players are still here.  1 didn't really want to be here at all and the other one found his buddies Pooh, Piglet, and Christopher Robbin.  But.. yes, this team isn't good enough.  The results tell us that.  I just don't think the team had the resources to make it any better.  

Perhaps we should be thankful we lucked into Dahlin and Skinner (despite the contract).  Imagine if we didn't get them?

People now say we should have let Skinner walk instead of pay him.  Could you imagine not having him right now?  That roster.... but yes, because Buffalo.. you have to overpay him to be here.  Otherwise we'd have $9M in cap space and still no players who wanted to sign here.  

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1 minute ago, LTS said:

Well, tearing it down now would be easy.  There are 18 players with no contract for next year.  Of the ones remaining, only 2 will get you anything of major value. 1 will get you a mediocre player and perhaps a pick.  So... no, it would be a monumentally bad idea.  But I'm, not convinced that back then it was all bad.  It wasn't all bad until they followed it up with what turned out to be a monumentally stupid "hold my beer" move.

 

So yes, and 3 of those players are still here.  1 didn't really want to be here at all and the other one found his buddies Pooh, Piglet, and Christopher Robbin.  But.. yes, this team isn't good enough.  The results tell us that.  I just don't think the team had the resources to make it any better.  

Perhaps we should be thankful we lucked into Dahlin and Skinner (despite the contract).  Imagine if we didn't get them?

People now say we should have let Skinner walk instead of pay him.  Could you imagine not having him right now?  That roster.... but yes, because Buffalo.. you have to overpay him to be here.  Otherwise we'd have $9M in cap space and still no players who wanted to sign here.  

No evidence we had to overpay.  Botteril was just inexperienced and got played by the agent. If Botteril was smart which he isn’t, he would have traded Skinner at deadline and resigned him during free agency probably 7 years 7 million per year. He already knew Skinner wanted to be here so there was a high probability he would have resigned at a reasonable price. 

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Just now, freester said:

No evidence we had to overpay.  Botteril was just inexperienced and got played by the agent. If Botteril was smart which he isn’t, he would have traded Skinner at deadline and resigned him during free agency probably 7 years 7 million per year. He already knew Skinner wanted to be here so there was a high probability he would have resigned at a reasonable price. 

Zero proof of this.  Zero.  You are telling me at the trade deadline that Skinner would tell Botterill, "Hell yah dude, we're on the verge of setting a new record for pathetic by going from first to worst. I'm totally in for next season."?  I don't think so.

Then they fire Housley....  that only makes it more uncertain what will happen in Buffalo the next year.

I would bet money that Skinner's agent was like.. "Pay up, it's your only choice to not look like a fool.  Right now your claim to fame is trading away the Conn Smythe trophy winner. Why on Earth does anyone want to play there?  Oh yeah, my other clients all have Buffalo on their NTC/NMC.  Skinner is throwing you a bone.  Pay up."

That said $9M wasn't REALLY out of line for someone who scored so many ES goals.  It's unfortunate he's not scoring them this year however.

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25 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Does anything define the culture more in Buffalo than an acceptance of losing? Either the complete teardown that was the tank, knowing that losing would be inevitable; an "evaluation" year for Housley, which naturally clashed with an all-out effort to win, and maybe a version of that is happening now with RaKru (the Skinner "test," who fits where and do they fit at all?); Botterill sitting on his hands when a team that won 10 games in a row looked for help and the GM decided this wasn't the year, either; and the latter might still be happening — it's all about next year, after all.

It has to be a horrifying experience for these ulta-competitive athletes. We'll turn it on at some point in the future? It's how they play most games. Sometimes I don't blame them a'tall.

I think it has to play a role, especially with the vets.  They know that teams focused on winning actively fill holes.  When those holes go unfilled there must be an element of "why bother" that comes into play, even if only subconsciously.  I mean, in every employment situation I have ever been in, when management hasn't bought into the stated goals it tends to be well noticed, and it tends to affect team performance overall.

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11 minutes ago, freester said:

No evidence we had to overpay.  Botteril was just inexperienced and got played by the agent. If Botteril was smart which he isn’t, he would have traded Skinner at deadline and resigned him during free agency probably 7 years 7 million per year. He already knew Skinner wanted to be here so there was a high probability he would have resigned at a reasonable price. 

Listen, I’m not saying that we need to yield to management and blindly follow whatever management does because “they know best” or “they are the pros”.  But this is a little presumptuous of you.  You “know” Botterill got played because he is inexperienced.  You “know” Botterill isn’t smart.  

Truth is, we don’t know any of this.  We can speculate, and in some instances we have evidence of one thing or another, but we rarely know most of the information that goes into making a decision within the Buffalo Sabres organization.

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