Scratch former Sabres player and coach Rick Dudley off your candidates list for the team’s vacant general manager job.
The Sabres asked Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin for permission to talk to Dudley, who is the Canadiens’ assistant GM, and it was granted this week. But before an interview took place, Dudley agreed to a contract extension with Montreal and pulled his name out of contention.
“I went to Montreal because of Marc Bergevin,” Dudley said in a press box meeting with reporters prior to Wednesday’s game against the Habs. “I enjoy the people I work with. It’s fun. It’s a great gig. If you enjoy something a great deal, why change if you don’t have to?
“I’m having a ball in Montreal and I want to stay there. It’s been fun from day one. We’ve got a wonderful group of players, coaches, the entire staff. It was a situation I didn’t think I could walk away from.”
Dudley, who still lives in Lewiston, was considered a prime candidate for the Sabres job. He’s 64 and has been a GM in Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida and Atlanta as well as working in the front office in Chicago and helping to build the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup champions. He also worked in Toronto before joining the Habs last year.
As for the Sabres, Dudley said he was confident new president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine would make the right choice at GM. Assistants Jim Benning (Boston), Jason Botterill (Pittsburgh) and Paul Fenton (Nashville) have been the most prominent candidates.
He said current assistant GM and scouting director Kevin Devine has done a good job accumulating young talent.
“I think there’s some really good young pieces in the cupboard,” Dudley said. “The problem with the NHL now with the cap and the way it is, is that you can’t make mistakes. So from here on, they’ve just got to avoid mistakes. They’re a team with a number of assets and the pieces they put in place here have to be the right ones. Same as anybody.”
Dudley wouldn’t comment on terms of his new deal but TSN reported he got a lucrative raise with his multi-year extension. He said it was as much a life decision as it was financial.
“My wife knows me better than anybody. She says, ‘You smile now,’ ” Dudley said. “There are times she’s seen me where I didn’t, so why change? I appreciate the Buffalo Sabres and everything they’ve done for me, and the city of Buffalo. But I enjoy working with Montreal.”
The Sabres claimed right winger Matt D’Agostini on waivers from Pittsburgh and made room on their roster for him by putting winger Corey Tropp on waivers, with hopes of getting him through so he can go to Rochester.
The 6-foot, 198-pound D’Agostini, who did not play Wednesday, will wear No. 27. He has one assist in eight games with the Penguins this season after signing a one-year, $550,000 contract with them over the summer. An unspecified injury and spotty play made it tough for him to stay in the lineup
D’Agostini, 27, played parts of four seasons with Montreal and had his best year for St. Louis in 2010-11 with a career-high 21 goals and 46 points. He was a sixth-round pick of the Habs in 2005.
Tropp had one assist in nine games and was minus-8 this year.
The Sabres have made a major addition to their scouting staff with the hiring of Kevin Prendergast, a former Edmonton assistant general manager who most recently worked as a scout for Hockey Canada.
Prendergast will work with Devine on both pro and amateur scouting. He was head scout for Hockey Canada’s men’s Program of Excellence, and was responsible for all player evaluation and recruitment for the national junior and under-18 development and selection camps. He also headed evaluations with the under-17 program.
Prendergast worked for 20 seasons with the Oilers, joining the club in 1990-91 as its vice president of hockey operations and eventually taking on the title of assistant GM in 2006-07. He also worked with NHL Central Scouting from 1983 to ’90.
Nolan said backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth will play one of the games this weekend, either Friday’s visit by Toronto or Saturday’s game in New Jersey.
With Tropp on waivers, enforcer John Scott moved back into the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s loss to Detroit as a healthy scratch.
Cody McCormick took the morning skate in his first appearance since leaving last Thursday’s game in Philadelphia with an undisclosed injury. Nolan said he’s ahead of schedule and could play this weekend.