The Buffalo Sabres ended their disappointing season on Saturday. They wasted no time firing Phil Housley who seemed overwhelmed and out of answers in his two woeful seasons at the helm. By Monday there were reports that the Sabres were keying in on former San Jose & Edmonton Head Coach, Todd McLellan.
The WNYPLA officially feels that if the Buffalo Sabres hire anybody NOT named, Chris Taylor, that it would be a huge mistake!
While the Sabres have toiled for the last eight years and saw an amazing start to this season end in a, “BILLS Droughtastic finish”, their AHL Affiliate, the Rochester Americans have seen a resurgence under the management of Assistant General Manager, Randy Sexton, and more importantly, Head Coach, Chris Taylor.
Taylor was named Head Coach after, Jason Botterill, took over as GM of the Sabres after the 2016-17 season. Taylor has successfully led the Amerks to the Calder Cup Playoffs now in both seasons and is only one point back of the Syracuse Crunch for a North Division Title and home ice in the first two rounds of the playoffs!
The Amerks are currently third overall in the entire AHL in points and winning percentage (The Pacific Division plays eight less games than the rest of the league) and are tied for the eighth best power play. They have had five, three-game winning streaks while their worst skids have been three games which has happened three times. This shows that while the team can get streaky, no streak gets out of hand which shows consistency.
The Sabres have had a difficult time establishing consistency and a positive culture over the last eight years and more specifically over the last four since drafting, Jack Eichel. Taylor, has developed a culture of winning in Rochester. This is extremely important because by our count, nine players currently in the system have seen time in Buffalo this season that have played for him in Rochester. This means that getting the team to buy in will be significantly easier and whomever Buffalo drafts at seventh overall will now have veterans he can lean on to learn about the coach, the system and the culture. This is huge!
There are Sabres’ fans who feel that Taylor is not ready yet because he has only spent two years as a head coach and feel that he needs to, “Develop,” more. The problem with that is that he can be scooped up by another NHL franchise who will either make him an assistant or a head coach so the time is now.
Also there’s a history between, Taylor and Botterill. They were teammates and when Taylor was let go from being an Amerks assistant, it was his relationship with Botterill that led to him becoming an assistant in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while Botterill was the Assistant GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On top of all of this, Botterill has a history with this specific situation! In 2015-16 while working for the Penguins, Botterill, was instrumental in the hiring of, Mike Sullivan, to become the AHL team’s head coach and when the NHL club fired, Dan Bylsma, it was Botterill who helped in the promotion of, Sullivan, to becoming the head man where he won a Cup that season and the next one! This practically writes itself!
Chris Taylor, is ready to be a head coach in the NHL. More specifically, he is ready to be the Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres! He has built a culture of winning, has familiarity with the city, the players, the GM and the owners. That familiarity with the players and that so many guys have had success under him is what makes him stand out from the rest of the pack. In a drought where you can make the argument that every coach (except for Ted Nolan), has lost the room, Taylor has earned his players’ trust and that means that when he comes to Buffalo (Hopefully after winning the Calder Cup), he can hit the ground running.