Pegula calls Eichel story 'complete fabrication,' denies talking to Lombardi

Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

Terry Pegula is in full denial mode.

The Buffalo Sabres owner attempted to pour cold water on three separate claims at Friday's news conference addressing the firings of general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma.

First, there was the matter of Jack Eichel's reported lack of interest in signing a contract extension if Bylsma remained behind the bench.

That story emerged one day before Thursday's dismissals, but like Eichel's agent, Peter Fish, and the player himself, Pegula insisted there was nothing to it.

"Jack’s involvement as it was reported … is a complete fabrication," the owner said, according to ESPN's Craig Custance, adding, "I defend Jack, just as Peter did. It's not a true story."

Pegula was asked about another report that came about 20 minutes before the owner's scheduled media session. This one claimed former Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi interviewed for the corresponding Sabres position Thursday.

"We haven't talked to anybody," Pegula said. "Put that in the Jack-demanded-his-coach-be-fired category."

The owner also tried to dispel the notion that the Sabres tanked under Murray when they finished dead last in the NHL in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

"We do not hope to lose. ... We went through a rebuild," he said, according to WBEN. Pegula added, "I don't feel that we tanked. We rebuilt," according to WGR 550.

The owner also said he regrets not being more involved in Murray and Bylsma's hirings, and indicated he'll look for experienced candidates to fill the vacancies.

Murray spent more than 20 years in various hockey operations roles including scout, player personnel director, and assistant general manager, but had never served as an NHL GM before being named to that position for Buffalo in 2014.

Bylsma won the Stanley Cup in his first season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, and he spent six seasons with that organization before being fired after the 2013-14 campaign.