On Tuesday, the NHL’s newest club, the Seattle Kraken – set to debut in the 2021-22 season – announced two hirings. Both have connections to Winnipeg. Jason Botterill was named as assistant general manager to Ron Francis, while Norm Maciver was announced as director of player personnel.
Botterill, a Winnipeg product last served an NHL office with the Buffalo Sabres, to which he was was named GM in Buffalo back on May 11 of 2017. Maciver was most recently serving a player personnel role with the Chicago Blackhawks. He played alongside Francis in the past and even suited up for the original Winnipeg Jets in the club’s final season in Manitoba before being relocated to Phoenix.
“Jason brings a great deal of experience and has worked with some of the best in the business,” Francis said in a team-issued press release. “I previously worked with him at Hockey Canada during the 2019 World Championships, and he is an excellent addition to our team.”
“Norm was involved in Chicago’s recent cup winning teams and brings a lot of experience and knowledge,” Francis added in the release. “I know him from our playing days and am pleased to reunite with him. He will do a fantastic job as we build out our team.”
Botterill, who grew up in Winnipeg, spent eight seasons (1997-98 to 2004-05) trying to crack to the NHL, but seemingly came up short. Lacing up for the Dallas Stars, Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound winger managed to stick for 88 games, where he collected five goals, 14 points and 89 penalty minutes.
His management career with Buffalo wasn’t much better. His tenure included zero playoff runs as well as a number of lopsided trades and big-number contracts. He also replaced then head coach Dan Bylsma with Phil Housley, before firing Housley this past offseason and bringing in fellow Manitoban Ralph Krueger to man the bench. This past season, the Sabres went 30-31-8 and missed the playoffs for the ninth-straight year.
Back in June of 2019, the now former GM dished out a monstrous eight-year, $72 million contract to supposed rental player Jeff Skinner, after trading away Ryan O’Reilly, and adding veteran Wayne Simmonds. Botterill also neglected to sign any big-name free agents during each of the past three summer signing periods. To top off it all, he failed Buffalo’s prized possession, Jack Eichel. Now under the direction of Steinbach’s Ralph Krueger, the Sabres will look to turn things around before the start of the 2020-21 season.
Maciver had a much more prosperous professional playing career. He suited up in 556 total games over 12 seasons with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotoes prior to his retirement. He put up 58 goals, 299 points and 382 total penalty minutes on the blueline. The Thunder Bay, ON. product has been involved with the NHL in a coaching/managing/player personnel role for the past 20 seasons following his official retirement in 1999.