The Buffalo Sabres didn’t get the Head Coach they wanted, but they now have the Head Coach that they needed…let me explain.
Buffalo played the part of jilted prom date last week when they were left holding the empty chair as Mike Babcock chose to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs and not the Sabres.
The Sabres, and to a larger extent their media, took it personally. It is the second time that Buffalo had been given bad news and had taken it poorly. The first time was when they lost the draft lottery and GM Tim Murray lamented the fact that he was going to have to settle with Jack Eichel, who in any other draft year would be a certain number one. Just not in the year of McDavid.
The Sabres then had to move quickly to get a coach that could fit the bill of a Mike Babcock. Not a Babcock replacement, so to speak, but a coach who has a good resume in his own right and would still be a plausible alternative. Enter Dan Byslma.
Byslma was the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach and if there is any consolation for Buffalo, Byslma’s Penguins beat Babcock’s Red Wings in the Stanley Cup back in 2009.
Byslma’s resume is impressive and his coaching chops will now be tested as this team was seemingly gutted to get Connor McDavid and now has back to back 51 loss seasons to build on. It can only get better.
But if Buffalo had lost out on Byslma, the franchise could have been in a dreadful state. Two spurned coaches and the cupboard running bare could have been disaster, which is why there is a good chance that Buffalo overpaid to get Dan Byslma, but it is money well spent.
The last thing you want your franchise to be known as is an unwanted destination. Byslma still has a lot of work to do, but he has some pieces and the acumen to make a difference.
Which is exactly what Buffalo needed.