Kim Pegula: Time off for Sabres allowed them 'an opportunity to change course'

Sabres President and co-owner Kim Pegula wrote a column for Peter King's "Football Morning in America" on Monday

Brayton Wilson
July 06, 2020 - 2:42 pm

The Buffalo Sabres' 2019-20 season was officially ended on May 26 when the National Hockey League announced its 24-team format for its Return To Play plan later this summer. Buffalo was the last team out of the 24-team format, missing the Montreal Canadiens for the 12th place spot in the Eastern Conference by three points.

Three weeks following the league's announcement, the Sabres made the decision to fire general manager Jason Botterill, while also letting go a total of 22 members of the hockey operations department. Now it is up to new general manager Kevyn Adams to build his new staff and to figure out a gameplan for the offseason to try and get the ship steered in the right direction and end the franchise's nine-year playoff drought.

Sabres President and co-owner Kim Pegula had said on the day the Sabres' season officially ended that Botterill would be the general manager heading into his fourth season in the league. That changed three weeks later when the team decided to move on from Botterill and promote Adams to general manager after serving as the team's Senior Vice President of Business Administration.

Pegula had more to say on the Sabres on Monday when she wrote a column for Peter King's "Football Morning in America" at NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk.

While the discussion on the Sabres was brief, she did mention that the time that the team had been allotted this offseason was a factor in making the decision to move on from Botterill and go a different direction.

"Knowing next season wasn’t going to start on time, and that even the draft, usually held in June, was now going to be delayed, we decided to take this as an opportunity to change course," Pegula wrote. "A change in the GM position is never easy; continuity is often an advantage, particularly during these tumultuous times. But when the hockey gods give you the rare gift of time — to be thoughtful and truly evaluate what is and isn’t working — you can’t waste that gift...

"While I don’t want to get into the specifics of why we parted ways with GM Jason Botterill, the pandemic certainly added another layer of complexity to a results-oriented business. We didn’t get the results we wanted last year and we knew with the delay of the hockey season, the uncertainty of hosting fans and Buffalo being hit hard economically, we had to think differently in order to move forward."

One talking point for the Pegulas when they spoke of the organizational moves they made back on June 16 was the idea of trimming down and becoming more leaner on the hockey operations side of things. Pegula expanded on that point a bit more on Monday, saying that the hiring of Adams was the start of those moves and the start of the new direction they want to organization to take.

"We needed to better utilize our resources such as video and analytics. We needed to become leaner and more agile to meet the challenges we knew were coming," Pegula wrote. "We had already implemented salary reductions and furloughs throughout the rest of the organization in April and with the shortened season and uncertain future, the hockey department was not immune. In selecting Kevyn Adams as our new GM to replace Jason, and in an accompanying transformation to our hockey operations staff, we went with a different approach.

"As a former player, assistant coach and business administrator, Kevyn brought a diverse perspective and plan. Plus, as a current employee in our organization, we know who he is as a person. In many ways, he’s been on a nine-year interview. Will it work? Only time will tell. But during a crisis the team that can adapt, foresee the problems, and has a solid foundation to be agile gives itself the best chance of survival. Maybe this unexpected opportunity for transformation can give us just that.

In addition to these comments made by Pegula, she spent a lot of the column discussing the lessons she has learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests that have brought up several key issues in our society today.

You can check out the entire colum from Pegula here:

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