Now that the Buffalo Sabres have fired long-time manager Darcy Regier, the question becomes who does president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine choose as his successor. The Sabres are in the precarious situation of starting at rock-bottom. The club has a wealth of draft selections and could systematically pull themselves out of the rubble with a sound approach to player development in the coming years.
The general sentiment from Wednesday's media availability was that the Sabres are going to collectively make decisions as a management team moving into the future. At the same time, LaFontaine identified that he has a short-list of candidates he will be looking to interview for the vacant general manager position.
Back in October, Nick Kypreos reported that Regier was on the hot seat and identified Pittsburgh Penguins staffers, Jason Botterill and Tom Fitzgerald, as potential candidates to take over in Buffalo. The connection with Buffalo is drawn to Sabres president Ted Black and senior advisor Ken Sawyer, both of whom previously worked with the Penguins.
The folks over at Pensburgh believe Botterill is a prime candidate to manage in the NHL, regardless of whether he gains employment with the Sabres:
Boterill's fingerprints are all over some recent financial maneuverings the Penguins have had to utilize to stay cap compliant in recent years- most memorably when the team sent NHL-ready Eric Tangradi to Wheeling of the ECHL just before the 2010-11 regular season- a complex move designed to maximize flexibility in the wake of the Jordan Staal LTIR situation. That exact scenario was virtually repeated (with Beau Bennett and Tomas Vokoun replacing Tangradi and Staal this time around) just a few weeks ago.
Considering the Sabres desire/need to develop through the draft, some believe Nashville Predators manager Paul Fenton would be the ideal candidate to replace Regier. Fenton is viewed as the manager in waiting in Nashville, but might he be enticed by the immediate opportunity?
Dirk Hoag details Fenton's prowess in player evaluation and development, via On the Forecheck:
Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton has long been talked about as having the potential to run his own team, particularly given his work in the field of drafting and development, which has typically been Nashville's strength as an organization. Fenton has long been responsible for running the team's draft operation, and he also serves as GM of the team's AHL affiliate the Milwaukee Admirals.
A similar situation is present in Philadelphia, where assistant manager Ron Hextall is viewed as the manager in waiting behind Paul Holmgren. Despite his next-in-line status, many have viewed Hextall as a promising general manager candidate. He might be a person LaFontaine would, at the very least, like to speak with.
Another potential candidate is Montreal Canadiens assistant general manager Rick Dudley. Dudely has extensive management experience and was mentioned in Sportsnet's report back in October as a person of interest if Regier was relieved.
Ultimately, it appears as though LaFontaine will have a considerable amount of say in who gets the job. Whether he draws from his past or looks elsewhere remains to be seen.