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Inside Look into the Past Year of the Sabres Front Office


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After reading the News story I thought how absurdly stupid the owners and the organization were in their austerity strategy. There were released staff members who had contracts that still had to be paid. If you add the Botterill and then Krueger contracts costs the owners didn't really save money. The end result of this so called reorganization is that it set the franchise back to the point where it is now scrambling to get back to where it started. Just senseless.  

Edited by JohnC
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20 minutes ago, JohnC said:

After reading the News story I thought how absurdly stupid the owners and the organization were in their austerity strategy. There were released staff members who had contracts that still had to be paid. If you add the Botterill and then Krueger contracts costs the owners didn't really save money. The end result of this so called reorganization is that it set the franchise back to the point where it is now scrambling to get back to where it started. Just senseless.  

Or perhaps it was less about austerity and more about cleaning house?

It’s not like we thought the Sabres scouting department was doing a fantastic job.

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6 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Or perhaps it was less about austerity and more about cleaning house?

It’s not like we thought the Sabres scouting department was doing a fantastic job.

This. LGRM has proven that with a little knowledge you can put together a pretty good draft list. Do you really need a staff of 30 to find one “hidden” gem per year? The return on investment seems low.

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1 minute ago, tom webster said:

This. LGRM has proven that with a little knowledge you can put together a pretty good draft list. Do you really need a staff of 30 to find one “hidden” gem per year? The return on investment seems low.

I think it’s mostly this.  Pegulas were probably thinking “we’ve been spending more than any other team on scouting for 10 years.  Do we have one of the leagues best prospect groups?  Do we make great player acquisitions to find under appreciated gems?  Why not?  Why are we doing this then?”

Then the pandemic happened and they decided for sure, yeah, we are going to cut this back.  It’s not working the way it’s supposed to and it’s costing us money for no return.

If this is the line of thinking, it makes some sense, and if it leads them to pursue a course that incorporates more data analysis then I think that could definitely lead to better results.

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So Lance says the budget cuts did not affect player costs while decimating the scouting department.

Google says NHL scouts make $50,000 a year. Firing 20 scouts saves about $1 million.

The Sabres spent just 76 million on players salary this year. I couldn’t find the team figure for last year, but I remember reading it was well over the cap. So the Sabres likely saved at least $5 million on players this year.

Far less in terms of percentage impact, but far more in terms of actual dollars.

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

If they don't expand analytics they'll continue to think Frolik makes them a better team. 

Frolik was a "Krueger Special", a player Ralph requested. Unfortunately, JB fulfilled it. 😐

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45 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Or perhaps it was less about austerity and more about cleaning house?

It’s not like we thought the Sabres scouting department was doing a fantastic job.

I disagree because from what the Peulas stated if Botts was willing to go along with the staff dismantlement he would have been able to keep his job. After a number of meetings with the owners he continued to decline to go along with the new business model. So he was dismissed. At the time of instituting the change the pandemic was ravaging their hospitality business along with their hockey business. The cash flow in those businesses was ravaged. And their thinking had to be since the team wasn't doing well while they were spending why not just spend less and weather the financial storm.

Where is the organization right now? It is trying to reconstitute the scouting department that was torn down and steadily rebuild the staffing. It's not too difficult to understand their reasoning for doing what they did. But in the end it didn't work. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Sabres had the worst record in the NHL. A dubious distinction reflective of their mismanagement. 

 

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4 minutes ago, JohnC said:

I disagree because from what the Peulas stated if Botts was willing to go along with the staff dismantlement he would have been able to keep his job. After a number of meetings with the owners he continued to decline to go along with the new business model. So he was dismissed. At the time of instituting the change the pandemic was ravaging their hospitality business along with their hockey business. The cash flow in those businesses was ravaged. And their thinking had to be since the team wasn't doing well while they were spending why not just spend less and weather the financial storm.

Where is the organization right now? It is trying to reconstitute the scouting department that was torn down and steadily rebuild the staffing. It's not too difficult to understand their reasoning for doing what they did. But in the end it didn't work. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Sabres had the worst record in the NHL. A dubious distinction reflective of their mismanagement. 

 

Except the bold isn’t happening. The Sabres aren’t replacing the bird dogs they fired with other bird dogs. For the most part the aren’t replacing them with anything, but the new hockey hires have been in player development and (apparently soon) analytics.

I think there was pretty clearly concern over the way the department was composed and its effectiveness. “What does this guy actually do and is he really helping?”  was a question the Pegulas obviously asked Adams to investigate even prior to the pandemic.

This is about more than temporary layoffs to weather the storm. More fundamental and structural questions are being addressed.

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So backtracking on adding to the smallest scouting department in the league? There’s pretty disappointing.

The only way I can think of them justifying that is to upgrade it to a written rule that the CHL is avoided after the very top of the draft 

1 hour ago, tom webster said:

This. LGRM has proven that with a little knowledge you can put together a pretty good draft list. Do you really need a staff of 30 to find one “hidden” gem per year? The return on investment seems low.

They aren’t going to scout the biggest development league in the world 

Edited by Thorny
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1 hour ago, tom webster said:

This. LGRM has proven that with a little knowledge you can put together a pretty good draft list. Do you really need a staff of 30 to find one “hidden” gem per year? The return on investment seems low.

What if drafting isn't the problem? What if it's development, or, more likely IMHO, where a player's head goes when he ends up in Buffalo (The Hall Effect, or so many before him). It's a simple thought experiment to place recent Sabres' draftees in Pittsburgh or Tampa and see where they would be today.

 

46 minutes ago, JohnC said:

I disagree because from what the Peulas stated if Botts was willing to go along with the staff dismantlement he would have been able to keep his job. After a number of meetings with the owners he continued to decline to go along with the new business model. So he was dismissed. At the time of instituting the change the pandemic was ravaging their hospitality business along with their hockey business. The cash flow in those businesses was ravaged. And their thinking had to be since the team wasn't doing well while they were spending why not just spend less and weather the financial storm.

Where is the organization right now? It is trying to reconstitute the scouting department that was torn down and steadily rebuild the staffing. It's not too difficult to understand their reasoning for doing what they did. But in the end it didn't work. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Sabres had the worst record in the NHL. A dubious distinction reflective of their mismanagement. 

 

If the goal was to save money, it worked. The only failing would be if they calculated that the team wouldn't decline further as a result of the layoffs. And it shouldn't have because the layoffs wouldn't affect this year's team. But maybe it deepened the players' impression that the organization was totally, off the rails dysfunctional.

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Something tells me it’s unlikely the Sabres, of all teams, are on the “cutting edge” in terms of determining how a scouting department should he operated, that of all teams, they alone figured out the secret that only a barren scouting department was necessary even in the midst of all the other teams having significantly deeper scouting staffs. 

Do we think maybe the “Pegulas don’t know what they are doing!” stuff, from all directions, has started to get to them? When people are attacked they often retreat further back into their mindset. One of the biggest themes I keep see popping up is the “maybe we know something everyone else doesn’t” line of thinking. The pure hubris. Said it with regards to the fans.  Said it with regards to Botterill’s draft list on a short time frame. And now they have the absolute gall to say it to the rest of the league 

 

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1 hour ago, JohnC said:

I disagree because from what the Peulas stated if Botts was willing to go along with the staff dismantlement he would have been able to keep his job. After a number of meetings with the owners he continued to decline to go along with the new business model. So he was dismissed. At the time of instituting the change the pandemic was ravaging their hospitality business along with their hockey business. The cash flow in those businesses was ravaged. And their thinking had to be since the team wasn't doing well while they were spending why not just spend less and weather the financial storm.

Where is the organization right now? It is trying to reconstitute the scouting department that was torn down and steadily rebuild the staffing. It's not too difficult to understand their reasoning for doing what they did. But in the end it didn't work. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Sabres had the worst record in the NHL. A dubious distinction reflective of their mismanagement. 

 

The bold is such a key point - there was no “vision”, Botterill could have stayed and been GM 

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2 hours ago, tom webster said:

This. LGRM has proven that with a little knowledge you can put together a pretty good draft list. Do you really need a staff of 30 to find one “hidden” gem per year? The return on investment seems low.

One person who was spectacularly good at this before he was kicked off of two boards for his truculence was @jame.  He just nailed things like who will develop, how far, timelines, etc.

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21 minutes ago, Thorny said:

The bold is such a key point - there was no “vision”, Botterill could have stayed and been GM 

Botterill could have stayed and been GM if he agreed to their restructuring of the hockey ops.  The restructuring was/is the vision.

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52 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

What if drafting isn't the problem? What if it's development, or, more likely IMHO, where a player's head goes when he ends up in Buffalo (The Hall Effect, or so many before him). It's a simple thought experiment to place recent Sabres' draftees in Pittsburgh or Tampa and see where they would be today.

 

If the goal was to save money, it worked. The only failing would be if they calculated that the team wouldn't decline further as a result of the layoffs. And it shouldn't have because the layoffs wouldn't affect this year's team. But maybe it deepened the players' impression that the organization was totally, off the rails dysfunctional.

PA, I thought you knew me better. I’m not a big believer in “development.” I may buy into the environment thing, but I have some reservations.

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2 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

I think Granato could be key. How many of these prospects has he worked with?

None?  The guys in this draft class were like 12 the last time Granato worked in the USA development program.

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43 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Something tells me it’s unlikely the Sabres, of all teams, are on the “cutting edge” in terms of determining how a scouting department should he operated, that of all teams, they alone figured out the secret that only a barren scouting department was necessary even in the midst of all the other teams having significantly deeper scouting staffs. 

Do we think maybe the “Pegulas don’t know what they are doing!” stuff, from all directions, has started to get to them? When people are attacked they often retreat further back into their mindset. One of the biggest themes I keep see popping up is the “maybe we know something everyone else doesn’t” line of thinking. The pure hubris. Said it with regards to the fans.  Said it with regards to Botterill’s draft list on a short time frame. And now they have the absolute gall to say it to the rest of the league 

 

 

5 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

I think Granato could be key. How many of these prospects has he worked with?

I think Thorny's and PromoTheRobot's posts have each other's answers.  I would bet significant money that Don Granato has a lot of information from friends of his about players in this draft.

Edited by Marvin, Sabres Fan
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5 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

What if drafting isn't the problem? What if it's development, or, more likely IMHO, where a player's head goes when he ends up in Buffalo (The Hall Effect, or so many before him). It's a simple thought experiment to place recent Sabres' draftees in Pittsburgh or Tampa and see where they would be today.

 

If the goal was to save money, it worked. The only failing would be if they calculated that the team wouldn't decline further as a result of the layoffs. And it shouldn't have because the layoffs wouldn't affect this year's team. But maybe it deepened the players' impression that the organization was totally, off the rails dysfunctional.

What deepened not only the players' but also the fans' impression that the organization was spiraling towards a crash was playing for a stubborn coach who had a prehistoric notion of how to play a modern game in the NHL. Doubling down on an approach that didn't work instead of trying something else was an not only self-defeating but it was hideously stupid. The bottom line is that there were many reasons why the fans and players got disillusioned with the situation.  

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