Sabres Spotlight: The search for a GM: How involved is Russ Brandon?

(Illustration by Kara Cekuta/Staff Illustrator)


Special to The Leader


Buffalo Bills and Sabres owner Terry Pegula has really added a ton onto his already overwhelming plate over the last few weeks. He has fired just about everybody in the Sabres organization, including the head coach, the general manager and the entire scouting staff.  

With the NHL draft only being two months away, the Pegulas and the Sabres need to be in hot pursuit to replace all that they have gotten rid of.  For an owner, that can be a very tough task to accomplish on your own.

On Sunday, Pegula hinted that the Sabres were close to finding a GM when he was asked during a press conference regarding the firing of Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley. During Sunday’s edition of “NHL Now,” SportsNet and NHL Insider Elliot Friedman reported that Buffalo Bills and Sabres President Russ Brandon will be leading the search for the next general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.

So, are the Sabres really that close to finding a new GM?  This report from Friedman comes as a surprise to many people who follow the team and the league in general.

Many Buffalo fans are a bit concerned. Since Brandon has risen to prominence as an executive of the Buffalo Bills, the team has been completely unsuccessful. Although Brandon has shown that he is a genius marketer, he has not given fans any evidence that he is a genius hockey or football mind. Having joined the Bills franchise back in 1997, Brandon is one of the longest tenured executives for the team. He struggled mightily as a GM for the franchise, but was not fired from the organization solely for his success in marketing the team.  The Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999, and Brandon is the only member of the organization that has remained since that time.

Since the Pegulas’ takeover of both the Bills and the Sabres, they have seemed to put a lot of trust in Brandon in decisions regarding both teams. Neither team has made the playoffs since the Pegulas became the owners. The Buffalo Sabres have a draft coming up very soon and are desperately in need of finding both a head coach and general manager. Pegula has told the media that they are close to finding a new GM, but the report from later in the day of Brandon being in charge has led some fans to believe otherwise.

Pegula may be starting to realize that being an owner of two professional sport franchises is much more stressful and difficult than he originally thought it would be. Many fans are concerned that he is putting too much trust in Brandon to make decisions regarding both franchises. Now Pegula is probably wondering if he waited just a little bit too long to fire Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray, as it seems like he and his wife are in absolute scramble mode with the Sabres.

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