McKenzie: Pressure mounting on Botterill, Housley

The Buffalo Sabres could become a key part in what is already shaping up to be an interesting summer of NHL transactions.

Bob McKenzie had a Friday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690.

Show host Conor McKenna alluded to the discontent among Sabres fans.

“While Sabres fans probably haven’t been happy for awhile, but they were really voicing their displeasure in a 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins,” noted McKenna. “There was booing, and then they started doing the wave for some reason apparently in Buffalo there as well. They’re already talking about rebuilding the rebuild there in Buffalo. What’s going on there.”

“It’s bad when the wave becomes your civil disobedience,” cracked McKenzie with a chuckle. “But yeah, they’ve been getting blanked on a regular basis here. The pressure is mounting on Phil Housley. I think one of the columnists in Buffalo is basically if not calling for his firing, suggesting that that’s going to have to be the move that they make.

“Other people are comparing their situation to that of the Edmonton Oilers - that is that they’ve got some real good players and some really high-end talent, but they don’t have nearly enough in the way of depth and they need to get it sooner rather than later because the fan base has no reason to say, ‘Well, we’ll be patient and wait for you,’ because the Sabres fans have been waiting an awfully long time.

“They’ve got Jack Eichel up front and they’ve got Rasmus Dahlin on the blueline and they’ve got some other good players, but not enough of them. So the pressure is going to be on Jason Botterill this offseason to take whatever steps are necessary to build up that depth and obviously make a determination on his coach. A while ago he was asked - it was just prior to the deadline, I believe - about Housley, and he just dismissed it out of hand.

“But I’m sure once the season is over there’s going to be a full evaluation of everything in Buffalo because I think their goal here was they knew they probably weren’t going to make the playoffs, but they wanted to stay in the race. They wanted to keep it close because that’s how young players develop. That’s how Dahlin and Eichel and all of these guys get better is playing in ‘meaningful games down the stretch’ and with 69 points and being 11, 12 points out of a playoff spot - those are not meaningful games, and that sets the whole organization back.”

The 30-31-9 Sabres sit 12 points out of the final Wild Card spot in the East.

The next portion of the discussion on 690 included Jeff Skinner’s contract negotiations.