Sabres GM Botterill hopes to hire coach by early next week

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) With the Stanley Cup Final out of the way, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has resumed the team's coaching search with the expectation to make a decision by early next week.

In a text sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Botterill declined to reveal which candidates from the Cup finalists he still intends to interview after Pittsburgh beat Nashville to win the championship in Game 6 on Sunday. When asked specifically about his interest in Pittsburgh's Rick Tocchet and Nashville's Phil Housley, Botterill would only say: ''I have respect for both of the coaches mentioned.''

The newly hired GM has already interviewed numerous candidates, including Washington assistant Todd Reirden. Botterill, however, was forced to place the search on hold because NHL rules prevented him from interviewing assistant coaches on teams still competing in the playoffs.

Botterill was hired last month after the Sabres fired both GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma in April.

Botterill has an immediate connection to Tocchet. Botterill spent the previous 10 years working his way up the Penguins' ranks to eventually become the team's assistant GM.

And Botterill was invited by the Penguins to Game 6 in Nashville, where he was on the ice to take part in the celebrations in honor of the role he played in helping build the defending champion's roster.

He also has a connection to Housley from their NHL playing days. Though Botterill was mostly a minor-league journeyman, he and Housley both played for the Calgary Flames from 1999-2001.

Housley has ties to the Sabres. The Hall of Fame defenseman was selected by Buffalo in the first round of the 1982 draft and spent the first eight seasons of his 21-year career with the team.

The Sabres are the NHL's only team without a coach after the Florida Panthers hired Bob Boughner on Monday. Boughner also interviewed for the Sabres job.

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AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this report.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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