Buffalo Sabres: A Darcy Regier Rant

Welcome to July, Buffalo Sabres fans.

The lack of activity by the club leaves little to write about, so, this will be a rant regarding the leader of the inactivity: Darcy Regier.

In my lifetime of being a Sabres fan, there have been a lot of highs, and a lot of lows. This, my friends, is one of the lowest points that I have ever witnessed in the history of the team. As a kid, there was the dominance of the Bruins over the Sabres for around 10 years, which finally ended with Brad May’s infamous ‘May Day’ goal. There were the tiffs surrounding GM John Muckler, Ted Nolan, and Dominik Hasek. The ‘No Goal’ loss to the Dallas Stars. The arrests during the Rigas ownership, and almost losing the team to another city. The invisible plague that overtook the defense in the 2006 playoff run. And…now.

“What’s he done wrong?” asked current owner Terry Pegula, when being questioned about current GM Darcy Regier. The proper question should have been, “What’s he done right?” Almost anyone, at any type of job, at any level, would not have lasted as long as Regier, when looking at his track record.

Yes, the Sabres went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999. Yet, that was not a team that was built by Regier. Yes, the Sabres were Cup contenders in 2006, but I consider that more luck than planning by Regier. Following the 2005 lockout, I find it hard to believe that Regier had predicted the ensuing league rule changes and direction, and assembled a team ahead of time built to win in those new conditions. Shortly thereafter, the team was unable to retain fan-favorites and team leaders Chris Drury and Danny Briere, and later dealt away top defenseman Brian Campbell.

The remaining ‘core’ assembled by Regier, in time, proved to be ‘soft,’ and was not very competitive in the evolving NHL atmosphere. You may be familiar with the names: Connolly, Roy, Gaustad, Vanek, Pominville, Afinogenov, Kotalik, Stafford, Hecht, MacArthur. These players had/have plenty of skill in their own right, but not necessarily much ‘battle’ in them. Regier has also never proven much in his often poor trade deadline acquisitions: Raffi Torres, Dominic Moore, Steve Bernier, Brad Boyes, Bob Corkum, Dainius Zubrus. Hard to find any fans rocking any jerseys with those names at First Niagara Center.

Of course, Regier has always had excuses in his tenure. Certain owners not willing to spend enough money, trade markets being weak, unforeseen injury bugs – run of the mill excuses. Sorry, but other GM’s deal with all of the same issues, and either fair well, or are told farewell.

Please excuse me if I am in the minority here, but I am VERY confused on the direction of the Buffalo Sabres. First, moneybags owner Terry Pegula buys the team, cries at his press conference and promises Stanley Cups, indicates that money is no option, and embarks on a number of moves to prove his word. The team goes out of its way to convince Robyn Regehr to waive a no-trade clause. The team goes out of its way to sign Christian Ehrhoff to a long-term deal. The team signs Ville Leino to a hefty contract. The team signs Tyler Myers to a long-term, expensive contract. The team makes substantial cosmetic upgrades to the locker room, and other amenities, in order to create and environment that would supposedly entice other league “stars” to want to come and play for Buffalo. In the midst of all this, Pegula is anointed a savior, and the fan-base, myself included, becomes ecstatic.

Only two and a half years later, and the team is a mess. Despite creating a new environment to allure star players, the Sabres own top star players, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, hint at wanting to leave. Regehr is gone. Leino has rarely been in the lineup. Myers has been a rollercoaster. The team, at this point, seems hell-bent on creating a future roster through the draft, and avoiding making any quality acquistions and fielding a competitive roster. Fans were treated to a team half-full of AHL players at the end of last season.

If the new direction is a rebuild, why are Vanek and Miller still here? The time to trade them was before, or at, the draft. They lose trade value every day, especially in regards to Miller. Teams who needed a new goalie made their moves at the draft, or at the Free Agent Frenzy. If the direction is to retool the team, why did Regier not sign anyone during the frenzy?

If you are an optimist, than you can praise the Sabres recent draft all you want. For every Alexander Ovechkin drafted, there is an Alexandre Daigle. For every Thomas Vanek drafted, there is a Marek Zagrapan. We will not know the results of Regier’s draft for a few years. You may be excited about Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, and JT Compher now, but it was not that long ago that we were excited about the likes of Zagrapan, Luke Adam, TJ Brennan, Dennis Persson, Drew Schiestel, Zack Kassian, and Brayden McNabb.

Unless the team is, in fact, NOT attempting to be competitive in 2013-14, there is no reason why Regier hasn’t made a move towards free agents such as Damien Brunner, Peter Mueller, or Mikhail Grabovski. Not that I necessarily want any of these players on the roster, but it would be nice to know that Darcy Regier is alive, thinking, and in action. The current Sabres make-up is not going to be competitive, and it would not hurt to take a one-year flier on any of those guys.

Also, it is disparaging that potential future-star of the Sabres, Cody Hodgson, is still not re-signed. Do something Darcy. Show us that you are alive. The season ticket holders may be renewing their seats at a high percentage, but I do not want to go to games half-full of their other teams fans at every game again, once they resell the tickets to rival fans.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Darcy Regier, NHL, Sabres

Want more from Sabre Noise?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • Tony

    Spot on, dude.

    • Andrew

      Thanks Tony.

  • Yannick Cloutier

    … Feeling better now?

    • Andrew

      Yannick,

      If you are asking me…no, I don’t feel better.

      I would like to watch a Sabres team that will be competitive. And by competitive, I don’t mean a team barely battling for a playoff spot, or losing in the first round. Id love to be a fan of a team that makes the playoffs 2 dozen years in a row, like the Red Wings. Notice that they never have high draft picks, or go through rebuilds?

  • Jes

    you can’t really cry about zack kassian dude because the fact of the matter is that he was traded for HODGSON!!! And for the time he was here in a Sabres uniform he was great.

    everything else you were basically spot on.

    • davidmuscalo

      Kassian was never great and will never be great. Great players are not sent done to the AHL as Kassian was by both the Sabres and Vancouver.

    • Andrew

      Jes,

      My point was that fans got excited about those draft picks when they were chosen. I am very glad Kassian was traded for Hodgson – and hopefully, Hodgson will stay.

  • 40plusyearsfrustration

    Finally, someone has taken the time to say it all. Spot on is right.

    All I keep hearing are said GM apologists saying we have all this great potential and we should just be patient. “Just you wait and see what we have for 3-5 years down the road.”

    Baloney!!!! If, and thats a BIG IF; these players pan out, great. I will admit I’m wrong.

    But if history plays out like it usually does, we will be back a square one with MORE excuses from said GM about suffering, waiting, blah, blah, blah. And the same fans saying said GM again needs more time. BS!!!

    Andrew, I am glad you had the cahonies to stand up and say what needed to be said. Even if it is a rehash of all that has been said. Said GM DOES NOT deserve more time, because if said GM had done anything resembling the job of a GM, we wouldn’t be in this position to begin with.

    Enough excuses, enough blaming previous ownership, enough blaming small market. Said GM’s history is mostly trash.
    If he is so great, where are all of the all stars we should have that have been drafted previously. Previous ownership and small market don’t explain that lack. 16 years of drafts and how many TRUE 1 rate players have come through here.
    Yes I am ranting, but am getting tired of hearing about giving said GM a chance. I’m tired of waiting on the same potential year in and year out.
    Build through the draft. Bull!! Its all a crap shoot.
    Has said GM suddenly become omnipresent and sees that all these players are going to be all stars????
    If so, why hasn’t he had that luck in the past 16 years. How many all stars or TRUE difference makers has he drafted??
    Nough said and now I feel better.
    Thank you Andrew for a great piece that NEEDED to be said AGAIN.

    • Andrew

      Thanks for reading, 40+. Your rant is appreciated, and all of your points are accurate.

      There really is no excuse for DR to still be on the team, with no proven track record after this long. It’s embarrassing that the Sabres are making no attempts at fielding a competitive team, and its a slap in the face of one of the best fan bases in the NHL.

    • wolfdoctor

      Regier traded a lot of his high draft choices away for rental players, who, for the most part did nothing to help the Sabres.

      • 40plusyearsfrustration

        Thank you for proving my point. Trade draft picks away in bad trades, pitiful draft picks, mostly pitiful free agent signings and a lot of bad trades.
        For those who say he had a few good moves, averages say you might get lucky every now and then. But overall, pitiful.

      • Andrew

        Exactly.

  • davidmuscalo

    Regier has become irrelevant in the future of the Sabres just as Lindy Ruff became irrelevant as a coach. Just like Ruff did after the loss to Carolina in the playoffs, Regier retains his position with the Sabres and is just as ineffectual in producing a winning team as Ruff was in motivating his charges. Eventually, Regier will be gone and then there may be some hope for this team.

    • Andrew

      I disagree. The rebuild just bought DR what, 3-4 more years, at least?

      Someday, yes, he will be gone. He might pass away before getting fired…

  • chas territo

    The problem as I see it, REGIER and PEGULA both are no-show execs! DR is the invisible man who overvalues his players and over prices these same players in trade offers! Pegula only shows his mug when he is about to launch a money making enterprise, skating rinks downtown!! Both of these false promise people(notice; not men), don’t face the questions asked, especially Pegula. His press conference, he would not allow questions about the state of the Sabres! WTF is that? Another example of his no-showitis(?). I can’t get around this team right now, hate whats going on, right now. If the season started tomorrow, i would rake leaves or something else and not watch this team of ??? Actually, i probably will watch, but not with one ounce of expectation for winning and that is so GD, MOFO sad and disheartening!!