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Sabres hire Penguins' Jason Botterill as general manager

Written by The Associated Press | May 11, 2017 10:32 AM
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This Sept. 12, 2011 file photo shows Kevin DellaPenta painting the Buffalo Sabres logo on the ice in preparation for the upcoming NHL hockey season, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo / David Duprey, File)

(Buffalo, NY) -- The Buffalo Sabres hired Pittsburgh Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill on Thursday to oversee 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 Buffalo's second front-office house-cleaning in 3 1/2 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 Cup-winning teams.

"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's hiring was hardly a surprise once the Sabres ended their search process a week ago.

The only delay was waiting for the Penguins to complete their playoff series.

The Sabres interviewed at least seven candidates, including Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin and Nashville's Paul Fenton.

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's rebuilding plans after 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.

In Pittsburgh, Botterill served as GM of the Penguins' AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which reached the playoffs for an eighth straight season.

He 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.

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