(Photo credit – Getty Images/NHL)
The Buffalo Sabres think they have found a new general manager in Tim Murray, but just in case they've also brought in longtime Pittsburgh Penguins head honcho Craig Patrick. The former player will be a assistant to the new GM and will be counted on for advice. It is a shrewd move by a organization that has lacked them in bulk in recent memory. Patrick lead the Pens front office from 1989 to 2006. That's seventeen years worth of experience. That's seventeen years of both great transactions and (forgoing creativity) really stupid ones. A truer mixed bag has yet to be discovered, but the Sabres are happy with themselves and that's all that matters.
New GM Murray said of Patrick, "[He’s] a veteran hockey guy that wants to come to Buffalo and give his input when he’s asked. I’ve worked with veteran guys. No matter what you think you know, their experience is invaluable. I worked with Bryan Murray, who’s 70 or 71. You can learn every day from those guys."
For all the ugly Patrick has done (finical disasters and poor trades), the hockey world will only remember the good. Patrick was the assistant GM and assistant coach for the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. You may have heard that story; massive underdogs, height of Cold War, beat the Russians, Gold Medal, blah blah blah. Patrick also played GM for the 2002 Olympic squad that won the Silver Medal, the first USA hockey medal since '80. Oh and he guided the Penguins to a pair of Stanley Cups. Patrick did that by drafting Jaromir Jagr and dealing John Cullen, Jeff Parker, and Zarley Zalapski for Cup heroes Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, and Grant Jennings. That trade was bolder than Southwestern flavors and forged Patrick's current high reputation.
That kind of gamble turned miracle is exactly what the Sabres are hoping the duo of Murray and Patrick can execute. The big question is what they will do about goalie-spectacular Ryan Miller. After they answer that one, questions surrounding the draft will pile high on their desks.
The draft is another strong suit for Craig Patrick. Well, picking high is another strong suit for Craig Patrick and ther Buffalo Sabres are going to be picking high for at least the next couple of years. Patrick's pretty good at spotting guys who will become NHL mainstays and avoiding busts. He is the guy who drafted Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Evgeni Malkin. And for that, all Penguins fans should be extremely grateful.
So good luck, best wishes, and other generic departures to Craig Patrick. He thank him and curse in turn, but mostly thank him. In time, we'll see what Sabres fans think.
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