In a well-publicized Buffalo News report on Friday evening following the Buffalo Sabres lost 4-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes, Sabres’ General Manager Darcy Regier said that the team isn’t in need of a “shake-up”.
“I wouldn’t call it a shake-up,” Regier said in RBC Center. “If there’s a move that makes sense for us, we’ll do it if something is going to improve our hockey club. There’s nothing imminent, as I said, right now.”
Well, I’m not sure what hockey team this guy is watching, but it can’t be these same Buffalo Sabres that lost, once again, Saturday evening at home to the Winnipeg Jets by a 2-1 score in overtime.
The Sabres, who own sole possession of 11th place in the Eastern Conference and are 23rd out of 30 overall, have now lost 15 of their last 21 games. They sit, unbelievably, only five points out of a playoff spot, behind the 8th place Pittsburgh Penguins.
Could the “close proximity” to a sacred playoff spot be why Regier feels that they can pull another late-season miracle out of their proverbial keisters?
“We’re close enough, but we’ve got to convert some of these chances into goals and those goals into wins,” he said. “I still go back to if we can get to where we’re finishing better, getting more scoring, getting secondary scoring, that will go a long ways to helping us.”
Memo to Darcy: Getting secondary scoring once every ten games isn’t what I’d call a recipe for success. Derek Roy pro-rates to a whopping 16 goals. Drew Stafford is on pace for exactly 14. Nathan Gerbe, for all his heart and hard work, has dead aim on 11 goals. Brad Boyes and Ville Leino, 8 apiece.
Then we have the “Hands-of-stone brigade”. Paul Gaustad, he of the sick hand/eye coordination (well, at least on face-offs anyway), is on a 6-goal pace for the year. Same goes for Patrick Kaleta (I guess we should just be happy if he stays healthy). Matt Ellis, 5 goals. Cody McCormick has zero goals, about as many fighting majors that he’s been issued, too.
But, it hasn’t all been about the scoring.
There are just too many nights when there are too many passengers.
Stafford was supposed to be a key piece to the offense and a leader this season…what with the new $16 million contract and assistant Captain’s duties bestowed upon him by coach Lindy Ruff. He looks, at times, disinterested. Other times, he seems to trying too hard, seemingly frustrated by his inability to finish scoring chances. Drew doesn’t look to be having any sort of fun on the ice. Losing will do that to a person, but it’s up to him, and him alone, to find a way to get it done.
Gaustad, always thought of as a potential Captain… is a non-factor on the scoresheet most nights. Most troubling, however, is his lack of a dominating physical presence. Sure, he leans on the body well enough, and one cannot fault his effort most of the time. But, where are the hits? Where is the “mean” Paul Gaustad, all 6’5″ of him, of seasons past? Perhaps he could worry less about revolutionizing the art of the face-off, and contribute his usual 12 goals, all the while reeking havoc in the goal crease and making the corners of the rink an unwelcome destination for his opposition. Fighting Milan Lucic doesn’t get you a free pass.
Ryan Miller is a mess. He had a fantastic game in Carolina, if you count the difficult saves he had to make. Look at the pucks he let in, however, and we’re back to the same old Ryan Miller. Good goaltenders make the difficult saves. Great goaltenders make all of the saves. Miller has had one great year, his Vezina winning season of 2009-10. Other than that, his career stats are ordinary and middle-of-the-road, while his numbers for this season are a dog’s breakfast. Miller sits 38th in both GAA (3.05) and Save Pct. (.901), behind the likes of “future hall-of-famers” Al Montoya, Curtis Sanford, Sergei Bobrovsky and Jason LaBarbera, to name only a few. We’ve all heard the speculation (rumors/truths/half-truths?) regarding the Sabres’ franchise goalie: His heart is out in California, where his wife works as an actress much of the time; he doesn’t feel that his teammates have his back (since the Lucic incident); his teammates are sick of his self-absorbed, prima donna act, both on and off the ice, etc.
Whatever the case with Miller, something has to give. Either he gets his head screwed on straight, or it may be time to (gasp!) move him, while you still can. Much like “not having anything if you don’t have your health”, the Buffalo Sabres won’t win anything with a pedestrian starting goalie.
“At this time of the year and where we are, I’ve done a lot of talking to teams around the league, so I’m aware of some of those situations. Right now there’s nothing imminent, and that’s part of the business. We’ll keep working.”
Has anyone seen the interview with Brian Burke, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs (whom the Sabres play twice next week), where he name-drops Regier as a G-M he cannot, and will not, deal with in regards to trades? (The entire interview is a great one, and Burke is very open and forth-coming on various subjects. The comments on Regier come at the 10:15 mark).
Is Darcy speaking Swahili, or something…to the other General Managers around the league? There have been various reports over the past few years with regards to Regier and his outlandish trade demands. Apparently, Mr. Regier always has to win. These reports state that, while league General Managers all genuinely like Darcy, some will not work with him. If this is the case (and I keep hearing over and over as such), how can the fans expect Regier to be able to improve this hockey club if his chances of dealing with teams around the league is cut by even 20%? How can Terry Pegula have as much confidence in Regier as he did, say, ten months ago? How can Lindy Ruff, stuck with the same old, stale player core, not be ready to resign from his position, knowing that there probably isn’t any help on the way? How can team President Ted Black, upon hearing such comments from Burke (not to mention the absolutely atrocious season the Sabres are having), put his trust in Regier to build a championship roster?
“Without specific rumors, there’s truth to those rumors,” Regier said. “But the price right now, and I think things will build between now and the trade deadline. I think teams that are going to be sellers are going to try and maximize what they can get for what they are selling. I think that will build as we get closer to the trade deadline. That will be the threshold point.”
So, teams that are sellers now are asking for an enormous ransom for their top players (see Getzlaf, Ryan; Perry, Corey; Ryan, Bobby), but the prices for said players will escalate once we inch closer to the trade deadline? Is that what I’m getting out of this quote from you, Darcy?
Then (inhale, annoyed exhale) THE TIME TO BE MAKING DEALS WITH THESE TEAMS SHOULD BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, wouldn’t you say?!? If the price is going to go UP, why is Regier waiting to strike a deal, if he even does at all?
Perhaps, as was pointed out to me, Regier is bluffing.
He could be taking the “we don’t need your players as bad as you (rival G-M) think we do” approach, to try and drive the cost down. But, let’s be honest here. Darcy Regier’s 15-year reign of passiveness with regards to improving this team, and making any types of changes needed to get the team out of the funk (rhymes with “stunk”) that they are in, has resulted in this many (ZERO) Stanley Cup parades.
Boston Bruins‘ G-M Peter Chiarelli did what was needed last season, before the trade deadline I might add, to give his team more than a fighting chance to win it all. Last time I checked, they were the reigning Stanley Cup champs. Dale Tallon, current G-M for the Florida Panthers and, before that, a key piece in the rebuilding of the Chicago Black Hawks into (I’m sensing a theme here) Cup champs, has basically turned the Panthers roster upside down and inside out. They currently lead the Southeast division, and sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
These gentlemen did not sit by idly, while the rest of the league snatched up the players that would have helped their respective teams. They acted swiftly and decisively. They knew who their targets were, and went and retrieved them. They forged identities for their respective teams, and are reaping the rewards for their proactive nature.
While players such as Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan, among others, may or may not be available, don’t think the rest of the league’s G-M’s will sit by and let players of this ilk go to someone else. Teams like the Leafs, Bruins, Penguins, Black Hawks, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers are sure to be all over these types of trade talks.
So should the Buffalo Sabres, if it is indeed Pegula’s goal to win “multiple Stanley Cups”.
It will cost, though. Alot. So be prepared. But the Sabres’ needs (number one center) happen to align with what the Anaheim Ducks are rumored to be shopping: Ryan Getzlaf. Players of Getzlaf’s talent aren’t on the trade block very often, so why wait? What the asking price off the Sabres’ roster would be is anyone’s guess. If the Ducks are asking for Tyler Myers, Brayden McNabb or Thomas Vanek (because I’d want “a Getzlaf” playing alongside Vanek), I’d have to steer them in another direction. If they would be happy with a package of Derek Roy, Tyler Ennis, Mark Pysyk, and first and second round draft picks, then we have a deal. If the Ducks wanted Zack Kassian, I’d have to entertain that thought, as well. (Perhaps Ryan Miller is part of (or the main piece to) such a deal, with a Ducks’ goalie coming back,). Remember, finding a number one center is hard enough, so when you have the chance to deal for one, you make the preemptive strike, much like Chiarelli did last season for the players he targeted.
The question has been, and will be, until he proves otherwise: does Darcy Regier have the intestinal fortitude, or stones (if you will), to make such a blockbuster deal?
Does he have what it takes to turn this underachieving, underperforming, underwhelming Buffalo Sabres team into a Cup contender, something we all thought we were on the brink of before the first puck dropped on the 2011-12 season?
Nobody said raising a Stanley Cup banner was going to be easy, Darcy. But you’ve got to be in the game to win it.
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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Bob Murray Bobby Ryan Boston Bruins Brad Boyes Brayden Mcnabb Brian Burke Interview Buffalo Sabres Trade Chicago Black Hawks Cody Mccormick Corey Perry Dale Tallon Darcy Regier Trades Derek Roy Drew Stafford Florida Panthers Mark Pysyk New York Rangers Patrick Kaleta Paul Gaustad Peter Chiarelli Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins Ryan Getzlaf Ryan Miller Tyler Myers Ville Leino Zack Kassian