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The Buffalo Sabres today fired Coach Jim Schoenfeld and...

By
DICK USIAK

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres today fired Coach Jim Schoenfeld and replaced him withScotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history.

Bowman, the team's director of hockey operations and general manager, set a league record last season with his 718th career victory as a coach. He will be behind the Sabres bench tonight in a home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

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'I'm going to go back behind the bench in the hope I can do better than I did a year ago,' said Bowman, who stepped down as Sabres' coach at the end of last season when the club finished with a 38-28-14 record. 'You can't stay away from the fact we've fallen quite a bit behind Montreal and Quebec.'

Bowman, who coached Montreal to five Stanley Cup titles, including four straight from 1976 through 1979, said Schoenfeld was 'very disappointed' when told of the coaching change.

Schoenfeld, who was named coach this season with no prior NHL coaching experience, was not available for comment.

The Sabres, with Bowman behind the bench, were eliminated in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Quebec Nordiques last year. Buffalo has a 19-19-5 record this season, tied for last place in the Adams Division with the Hartford Whalers.

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Bowman said Schoenfeld, a former Sabres defenseman who also played with Boston and Detroit, could remain with the Sabres organization if he desired.

'His future with the club best be put on hold until he thinks and we think about what he wants to do,' Bowman said. 'There's a lot of work in an organization such as ours.'

Bowman would not criticize Schoenfeld, but did place some of the blame for the Sabres' poor performance this season on the players.

'I don't think the team is in complete disarray,' he said. 'I think the players have to look at themselves.'

Bowman joined the Sabres as coach in 1979, and coached the team on-and-off until after last season. He has a 189-109-57 record as the Sabres' bench boss.

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