So far during this offseason, the majority of my posts have addressed the topics of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the free agent market, and my desire to see the Buffalo Sabres do more in terms of using trades to facilitate the rebuilding process they have initiated.
Well, there’s one acquisition I have not discussed so far this summer.
Yes, I’m advocating that the Buffalo Sabre got out and get Dominik Hasek.
No, I’m not talking about adding him to the roster!
The Buffalo Sabres are currently in the midst of rebuilding their roster, in the hopes of assembling a team that is worthy of contending for Lord Stanley’s Cup. That’s great – but it’s not enough. Sure, the Sabres might hit the jackpot and build a team that makes the playoffs a few years in a row, and if everything falls into place they may even make it into the Stanley Cup Finals in my lifetime. Hell, weirder things have happened: the Buffalo Sabres could even win the Cup once while I live and breathe.
But is winning the Cup once an acceptable goal?
In order to consistently compete for the chance to hoist the greatest trophy in all of professional sports – which is the goal of teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, etc. – an organization must do more than strike gold once. I know you’ve heard me say this before, but the teams that spend years fighting for the Cup, stopping once in a while to reload only to claw their way back to the top in a short period of time, all hail from a culture of winning. Organizations that create a culture of winning expect to compete for a championship every single season, and they understand that it’s not simply the players on the team who must know how to win; rather, everyone in the system, especially the people working in the front office, have to know what it takes – and more importantly, what it means - to win.
Raise your hand if you think the front office knows what it takes, and means, to win? Dammit it, Misters Pegula and Regier, put your hands down!
It’s simple: if you were the Buffalo Sabres, you could put your hope in the “even a blind man hits the mark” philosophy and hope that your front office of people who have never won anything in the world of professional sports stumble upon a winning formula and lead your team to greatness one year.
A better choice, in my eyes, is to aggressively pursue the option of bringing in proven winners, preferably players who spent time wearing the blue and gold (or, in today’s case, the black and red), in order to lead the franchise in the winning direction.
Which is why the Buffalo Sabres should convince Dominik Hasek that he should don a suit and tie and join the Sabres’ front office.
Some Sabres fans resent Hasek for leaving the team in search of a Stanley Cup – get over it. Ryan Miller wants to do the exact same thing, and you cannot blame a player for that. Some fans will not forgive him for saying, “”I am and will be a Red Wing forever,” when he first retired in 2002. What did you want him to say: “Even though I finally won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, I am and will be a Buffalo Sabre forever”? Really? The man had just won the Stanley Cup – he was elated. He has since proven that he is proud to have been a member of the Sabres’ franchise.
While there are other ex-Sabres I would gladly discuss – Gilbert Perreault, for example – I am throwing my hat in the Dominator ring for one simple reason: Hasek has won a Stanley Cup, whereas someone like Perreault has not. That doesn’t mean I would not bring in retired Sabres who have never won a Cup; however, I would start with someone who has, and then add other legends to the front office. Hey – the goal of the franchise is to win a Stanley Cup, right? Gotta give the nod to the Hall of Famer who lifted the Cup.
Hasek holds over 539 Sabres’ franchise records – look it up! – and has played recently enough that this generation of players would still be awe of him. He has founded Hasek’s Heroes, which aims to help children from middle- and low-income families achieve their athletic and educational goals. He’s a Hall of Fame lock, a well-educated man, and a potential overseas ambassador for the franchise. Why would the Buffalo Sabres NOT want to bring a retired player with Hasek’s pedigree into the fold?
I am fully on board with the Sabres’ rebuilding plan, and even advocate trading Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller to speed up the process, as most of you already know. Rebuilding is the right course of action for the Buffalo Sabres – but if the front office thinks that the only rebuilding that needs to be done is on the ice, then this franchise will never become an elite professional sports organization. The Sabres desperately need to bring some proven winners into the front office, beginning with Dominik Hasek. Only then can we hope to see a culture of winning alive and well in the 716.
Who else would you want to see the Buffalo Sabres bring into the front office, and why? Leave your comments below, or fire them @theamazingMrS! And don’t forget to email your question or ideas to [email protected]!