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Sabres GM Murray cared not for salary floor, makes big first-day splash

Jul 1, 2014, 8:58 PM EST

Tim Murray AP

BUFFALO – Tim Murray told everyone all along he wasn’t concerned about the salary floor and after the first day of free agency, he was happy to remind everyone exactly why he wasn’t.

“You guys always asked about the floor which I never understood, but anyway,” Murray said before opening his end-of-day press conference at First Niagara Center. “I said earlier, it’s always easy to spend money. You guys just didn’t have faith that Buffalo was a destination, that’s all.”

Buffalo a destination? With the team that finished 30th in the league last season? You better believe it.

In one day, Murray went on a bonanza. He signed Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta to a three-year, $12.75 million deal, acquired defenseman Josh Gorges from the Habs for a 2016 second-round pick, brought back two former players in Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson, the latter on a five-year, $25 million deal, landed defenseman Andrej Meszaros from Boston on a one-year, $4.125 million deal as well as re-signing forward Marcus Foligno to a two-year deal.

Phew. While that might seem like a scramble to help the team reach the salary floor, which according to CapGeek they have, Murray had another motivation — establishing Buffalo as a destination for the future.

“I think our kids are sitting at home going, ‘Wow,'” Murray said. “They know these players. They watch the National Hockey League. They know the quality of the player, they know the quality of the person, they know the character. This is as excited as they are to get drafted by Buffalo in the last couple years. They know it’s a team that is not there. We can say it’s a team on the rise – people have to see that. I just think there’s some kids at home going, ‘This is great’.”

Part of what will help those young Sabres players like 2014 first-round pick Sam Reinhart, 2013 first-round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, and 2012 first-round picks Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons is the kind of veteran leadership this new crew of Sabres will provide.

“We’re more competitive,” Murray said. “We’ve got a lot of character now. We have leadership now. That’s important to me when you’re adding young players every year. There’s a short-term and a long-term. The long-term is that your young players get better. Your young players become pros. They’re not just good players, they’re good NHL players and I think that this group of people that we’ve added today can help in that regard.”

Before you get too excited, Murray admitted they’re a long way off still, but they’re a better team. That doesn’t mean he’s not excited for what’s to come though.

“People can get on the bandwagon early or get on late, it really doesn’t matter,” Murray said. “But if you want to be more right than you are wrong… I don’t want to sound cocky, but get on a little earlier than you might have thought because this is serious stuff. We take the job seriously, we prepare seriously.”

  1. rycoem - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    There’s something happening here…What it is ain’t exactly clear…

    • stcrowe - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:31 PM

      He’s not standing pat, and some of the moves look like good ones. It remains to be seen if he has a good plan, but it looks like he has a plan.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      There’s a man with a gun over there
      Tell you you’ve got to beware.

    • nxb13 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      Interesting to see if the Sabres will make a big play for the hometown hero Patrick Kane next summer. Blackhawks could have cap issues with Toews and Kane and might only be able to keep one (I assume that would be their captain). Given Meszaros’ 1-year deal and the Stewart/Stafford contracts coming of the books, it makes me believe Buffalo was trying to reach the cap floor but still have plenty of cap flexibility for a major spending spree next summer.

    • blomfeld - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:32 AM

      MURRAY = HINCKLEY

      John Warnock Hinckley Jr. (born May 29, 1955) attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington D.C., on March 30, 1981, as the culmination of an effort to impress teen actress Jodie Foster. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained under institutional psychiatric care since then, though with progressively longer visits to the home of his parents. Public outcry over the verdict led to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984. This changed the role of mental illness in court proceedings.

      summary: Murray is ‘delusional’ and the likes of Hinckley should be ‘neutralized’ upon first contact

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        Though you ramble on like you’re right on the line between insanity and sanity (leaning more towards “in”), I do like the Beatles choices you’ve been making.

      • eng201igorsukh - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        blomfeld, you’re “delusional” and you should be “neutralized”.

  2. lowenni - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    I like Murray’s moves a lot today. While they may hurt their chances at the no. 1 pick next year, they’ve added a ton of leadership to help mold a group of solid and promising youngsters. Gionta can help forwards like Hogdson, Girgensons, Grigorenko(maybe) Reinhart, and others, while Gorges will help with Ristolainen and Zadorov. Maybe help find Tyler Myers’ game again if they don’t trade him. Moulson wanting to come back and the glowing comments he had about the organization really says a lot about the team and the direction they’re going in. It’ll take a few years but future is bright in Buffalo. They’re doing things right and the players know it.

    I think they should resign Ott as well if he’ll take 1-2 mil. He really loved playing there and being a leader instead of just a plug. He can be a good 3rd liner for them and help the kids. There’s nothing wrong with passionate guys who want to be a part of your team if the price is right.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:38 PM

      I agree and I’d love them to bring Ott back.

      • padam138 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:44 PM

        There’s always tomorrow. Remember that no one got the “C” after Ott left, so it’s still waiting for him. I like how people were critical today that they might blow their chance at getting McDavid, but just yesterday everyone was hating on Murray and so sure they were tanking this season.

      • winbills - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:12 PM

        any players that signs with us now is not the kinda of player i want on my team……….players that sign now are accepting losing……and i do not want players on my team that feel losing is ok

    • winbills - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      there is something wrong with players that sign up to play for a team that is not going to win………

      this was just more stupidity

      • thomasvanek - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:03 AM

        You don’t understand how Hockey works, do you? Players that sign here don’t need to win a cup in the next year or 2. They see the potential that this team has with all of the assets that we have acquired and realize that in a few years we will be a strong contender. Use you head bud!

    • kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      I don’t really see how anyone will be worse, except maybe the Oilers cuz the draft is the Stanley Cup for them. Especially, since they got ‘Bold Moves’ MacT as their GM.

      • 3linepass - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Toronto will be worse than Buffalo this year. Write that down. They played waaaay above expectations in the first half of the year before the free-fall back to reality. Bad coach. Bad defensive system. They will challenge for the basement.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        I never overestimate the leafs chances to win or underestimate their ability to disappoint their fans. If there’s one team that can pull defeat out of the jaws of victory it is the leafs. if there’s one team ready to turn a promising season into one of woeful performance it is the leafs.

        I would advise anyone who is a current leafs fan to not pass on that unrequited feeling to any of their offspring. Instead let them cheer for any one of the other franchises in the NHL, which will always have a least a shot at a stanley cup final appearance let alone a cup victory.

  3. pfhockey - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    They’re heading in the right direction that’s for sure. And quicker than it looks.

    • winbills - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      quicker than it looks based upon what??????

      • pfhockey - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        I think the young talent will begin to rise soon. Before today they looked to be frontrunners for the McDavid sweepstakes, at this rate they won’t be rebuilding for long. They’ll be deep down the middle, defense, and have decent goalies. They’ll be back in form in no time. Murray is the man.

    • valoisvipers - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      Keep on drinking the Koolaid pfhockey.

      • pfhockey - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        I’m not even a BUF fan but this is a great rebuild. Good for BUF fans, they are fortunate enough to have a GM like Murray. I don’t see how you can’t see that this team is on the rise when they are stocked in D prospects, Center prospects, and Goaltending prospects. Now they made moves not for the sake of being above the cap floor, but to provide experience. Now you have tremendous experience in Gionta, Meszaros, and Gorges to lead a team, not to mention signing Moulson to help Reinhart in his development. Now they have Grigorenko, Girgensons, Hodgson, and Reinhart down the middle. Pretty hard to ignore even if you’re a casual fan. As excitedd as I am for my team, it’s hard to not be excited for BUF as a hockey fan.

      • valoisvipers - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Yes they are a team on the rise because when you are on the bottom there is no where to go but up. I think all they did was get themselves out of the McDavid sweepstakes. They will with time and all the acquired draft picks be a good team but not by attracting the UFA’s that are attracted by only money to play in Buffalo.

  4. kgun80 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    I like the moves …vets who can help mold the young guys and show them how to compete. And as for Ott, it wouldn’t be a good move we don’t need him. There is no point were not looking for a grinder/ tough guy. Bills and Sabres fans gotta get over wanting mid range players because they are tough and try hard. We need leaders and winners.

    • winbills - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      these signings are loser players………..moulson has played on a loser for so long, he no longer hates losing

      • dcbona - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:16 AM

        As a Wild fan, I can’t believe the Sabres gave Moulson that much money, for that length of time. He was a healthy scratch during part of the 1st round of the playoffs. He’s one of the slowest forwards I’ve ever seen. Seems like a hefty price to pay for leadership.

  5. sjsharks66 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    “I don’t want to sound cocky”
    except you do sound VERY cocky. Sorry Buffalo fans but if they finish dead last again ( which I don’t think they will be DEAD last ) I won’t be able to control my laughter.

    He may some GREAT deals and brought in plenty of new and old faces. Is it enough? Who knows.. Hopefully Buffalo steps it up next season. It would be fun to see them push for the playoffs and get a spot. I know they have the Sharks number, for sure! Haha

    • cantescapekarma - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      You are taking his comment the wrong way. Murray said straight up that we still have a long ways to go and he by no means thinks that we are a playoff team or cup contender. He said that today we added leadership and got tougher to play against, and now these young kids have some real good leadership around them and they started to change the culture in the locker room – guys are definitely Not expected to lose/tank next season and he made that pretty clear by the moves today.
      Murray knows these moves are nowhere near enough to fully turn things around, but said its a very good step in the right direction. I hate when these articles leave out key comments… (those quotes were not all he said. He talked for a good 15 minutes on the moves made today, but much was left out of this article)

  6. nxb13 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Interesting to see if the Sabres will make a big play for the hometown hero Patrick Kane next summer. Blackhawks could have cap issues with Toews and Kane and might only be able to keep one (I assume that would be their captain). Given Meszaros’ 1-year deal and the Stewart/Stafford contracts coming of the books, it makes me believe Buffalo was trying to reach the cap floor but still have plenty of cap flexibility for a major spending spree next summer.

  7. jonnyhammersticks - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    They certainly improved the team but I still think they’ll finish at the bottom for the next couple years.

    What NHL teams are they better than right now? I pose that as a serious question.

  8. cantescapekarma - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    So where are all those smart a**es who were talking all that crap on here after the Christian Ehrhoff buyout, saying that “Oh, anyone who knows hockey would know that Buffalo bought out Ehrhoff in order to tank next season” etc etc etc.

    If this is Tim Murray trying to tank for next season, I can’t wait to see what he does when he wants to go all in to win…

    I think it is pretty clear that Buffalo is pretty obviously looking to improve upon last season. Like Murray said, we still have a long ways to go before we are a playoff team. But he definitely changed the culture in that locker room and made it clear that not giving 100% effort every shift of every game will Not be tolerated.
    If you’re a Buffalo fan, I don’t know how you could not be excited about the direction this team is going…!

    It is so nice to have a GM that makes moves that actually make sense. I have not had to scratch my head and question any if Tim Murray’s moves so far. I could absolutely see Tim Murray being in the running for GM of the year within the next few years. This guy is super smart and a forward, outside of the box thinker. I am so grateful to Pat LaFontaine for bringing this guy on board (and Ted Nolan too, the players absolutely rave about him (even Gorges who just got here loves Teddy Nolan!)) and to the Ottawa Senators for allowing Tim Murray to come here to Buffalo. Thanks Patty and Thanks Ottawa. I can see why Ottawa fans were so upset to see Tim Murray go!

    I have to believe that Craig Patrick had a part in all these moves as well. There are some very smart hockey guys running things for the Buffalo Sabres these days. With an owner willing to go above and beyond in his spending (even breaking league rules and paying large fines to hold prospect camps here) and an absolutely amazing owners wife who treats these players families first class all the way (which is a big reason Matt Moulson’s family wanted to live here in Buffalo for the foreseeable future), the future looks bright.

    • kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:23 PM

      I think the smart a*es you refer to are Leafs fans… enough said about their knowledge of the game considering who they cheer for…

  9. ralphwilsonisrich - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Should be better than the leafs

  10. jernster21 - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Gotta give Murray credit for being aggressive in trying turning this around. At the end of the day, they’re only going to get as far as their goalies will take them and that’s still a huge question mark at this point until one of them takes the reigns and proves otherwise.

  11. pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:48 AM

    That dude looks like hes about to swallow a huge load

    • jernster21 - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:04 AM

      How would you know what a dude looks like when he’s about to swallow a huge load? Is that how you do it or should Murray give you a call for tips on his technique?

      • pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:20 AM

        yep. He should definitely give YOU a call….. He just looks gay man. Just like how you sound gay. Sorry if I offended you?

  12. djshnooks - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    A couple things…

    Murray said Ott is not on his radar…and Brian Gionta will most likely be the captain, as he was for such a storied franchise in Montreal. That’ why they got him.

    Buffalo is not trying to win much this year…but by this time next year, you better believe they are gonna be another Colorado…that’s what Murray is saying. Laugh all you want, he’s a hell of a GM.

    Buffalo is now a destination where players will want to come to play. You’re seeing a transformation of that team that is going to make them a contender year in, year out.

    Get on board, or step to the side…but when it happens, expect a lot of “told ya so.”

    • rednuthatch - Jul 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      Please, when did he say Ott was not on his radar?

  13. djshnooks - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    Bills fan you’re an idiot who has no clue. Bunch of losers? Lol, tell that to Gionta.

    And Moulson sucks huh? He’s one of the leading goal scorers since the lockout.

    Some of you say the stupidest s**t!

  14. phtjoey - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Although I like what Buf has done during day 1 of UFA, they are still many years away from completing the rebuilding process. Contrary to popular belief they have not excluded themselves from the McDavid lottery. There are many things a creative GM can do to get a chance at getting him.

    Murray realizes that mashing a bunch of young talent together doesn’t equate to success. He’s looking for the proper balance of young guns and veteran presence. Something the Oilers were not able to achieve. Only time will tell if Murray as the right combination, and if he doesn’t expect more moves before they’re 30 games into the schedule.

    BTW, I also like what Edm did yesterday.

  15. flyerguy73 - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    This guy is a loser just like all of the sabres players. Idiot.

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