Bot­ter­ill leaves Pen­guins to be­come Sabres GM

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN WAWROW

BUF­FALO, N.Y. — Ja­son Bot­ter­ill is leav­ing the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ bid to de­fend their Stan­ley Cup ti­tle for an op­por­tu­nity to build the Buf­falo Sabres into con­tenders as gen­eral man­ager.

The Sabres hired the Pen­guins as­so­ci­ate GM on Thurs­day to lead a fran­chise that owner Terry Peg­ula crit­i­cized for lack­ing struc­ture and dis­ci­pline.

Bot­ter­ill takes over three weeks af­ter Tim Mur­ray was fired, and one day af­ter Pitts­burgh ad­vanced to the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals by de­feat­ing the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals 2-0 in Game 7 of their sec­ond-round play­off se­ries.

Bot­ter­ill’s first pri­or­ity will be hir­ing a coach to re­place Dan Bylsma, who was also fired in the Sabres’ sec­ond front-of­fice house­clean­ing in 3 ½ years.

The for­mer NHL player has spent the past 10 years work­ing up the Pen­guins’ ex­ec­u­tive ranks.

Over the past three years, Bot­ter­ill has closely helped GM Jim Ruther­ford with scout­ing, con­tract and player devel­op­ment mat­ters.

The Pen­guins have re­ferred to Bot­ter­ill as the “key ar­chi­tect” of their 2009 and 2016 Stan­ley Cup­win­ning teams.

Bot­ter­ill was par­tic­u­larly cred­ited for hir­ing Mike Sul­li­van to coach the AHL team be­fore the start of the 2015-16 sea­son. Sul­li­van coached them to a cham­pi­onship.

“Ja­son’s knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and de­vel­op­ing play­ers, and his ap­proach to man­age­ment stood out to us dur­ing our in­ter­view process,” Peg­ula said.

“Ja­son has built a solid rep­u­ta­tion as a leader that con­nects strongly with play­ers and staff around him.”

Bot­ter­ill was a can­di­date for the Sabres’ job in 2014, when for­mer team pres­i­dent Pat LaFon­taine hired Mur­ray.

He now takes over a team that stag­nated un­der Mur­ray, miss­ing the play­offs for a sixth con­sec­u­tive sea­son. With a 33-37-12 record, Buf­falo fin­ished last in the At­lantic Divi­sion, 26th over­all, and with two fewer wins than last sea­son.

It’s also a bit of a home­com­ing for the 40-year-old who grew up in Win­nipeg. Bot­ter­ill closed his play­ing ca­reer in the Sabres or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He played 38 games with the Sabres from 2002-04 and re­tired af­ter sus­tain­ing a con­cus­sion eight games into the 2004-05 sea­son with Rochester, Buf­falo’s Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate.

ICON SMI

A Sabre in 2003, Ja­son Bot­ter­ill is re­turn­ing to the team as the new gen­eral man­ager.

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