Sabres Housecleaning Pt. 1- Case Against Regier

Posted on April 28, 2010 by Will Eldredge

sabres original logoAs the curtain closes on the 2009/2010 Buffalo Sabres’ season, it’s hard not to be left wanting more.  After an eternity of sound bites about “making noise” and “doing damage” once the postseason arrived, the chips fell, and the team flat out sucked.

Instead of erasing the history of two straight playoff-less seasons, every frustrating inconsistency of the past two years was maddeningly magnified.  The Sabres’ couldn’t overcome any of the hardships of playoff hockey and demonstrated the same frailty that has characterized one of the most up and down clubs of the past few years.

With the team hitting the links after their first round defeat to the Bruins, major organizational and roster changes are needed to take the club to the next level, and that starts with sending both parts of the NHL’s longest tenured general manager/coach combo packing; Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff.

Part one: The Case against Regier:

♦ He has been directly responsible for the end of two different eras in Sabres history.  First, his treatment of Michael Peca during the then-Captain’s holdout led to the loss of both Peca and star goaltender Dominik Hasek, who was convinced by the situation that the Sabres’ organization was not committed to winning.  Laughable returns on both players helped to embroil Buffalo in mediocrity until the lockout.  Secondly, he oversaw the departure of co-Captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury in free agency in 2007.  To make matters worse, Regier was rumored to have come to a handshake deal with Drury that was sufficiently less than what the veteran center got in New York.  Sources say the GM left the deal on the table, convincing Drury to test the free agent market.  To this day, neither player’s role has been filled nor the Sabres missed the playoffs two straight seasons.

♦ He’s reactionary.  In the 2006 offseason, Regier had a chance to lock up Briere to a long term deal at a five million dollar cap hit.  He refused, and Briere took a one year deal that set him up for unrestricted free agency.  Although such a contract now would be commonplace, at the time it was big money and Regier turning the deal down showed his unwillingness to think outside the box.  It took the departure of both Briere and Drury to convince Darcy to rethink his position on long-term contracts and overpayments to Connolly, Pominville and Gaustad were the result.

♦ His core is rotten.  Thomas Vanek was the only member of what Regier has labeled the “core” to have any success in the playoffs.  Derek Roy had two points in six games, Jason Pominville avoided high traffic areas like the plague, Paul Gaustad was ghostly and Tim Connolly was downright putrid.

♦ One stat speaks for itself:

In three seasons, Regier’s core has won two playoff games.

♦ He hasn’t sufficiently addressed needs.  It took Regier two years to acquire a physical defenseman, and instead of pursuing an unrestricted Brooks Orpik, Regier tried to kill three birds (physical d-man, leader, and right handed shot) with one stone by acquiring Craig Rivet from San Jose.  Rivet never really lived up to the hype surrounding his acquisition, and the Sabres’ defense is still in need of a fearsome open ice hitter and true shutdown man.

Center depth is something else that has plagued Buffalo in the recent past.  Even while hitching his wagons to an injury plagued Tim Connolly, Regier has ignored adding another center to the mix and the Sabres have suffered dearly as a result.  In the Boston series, the Sabres had no options to replace a struggling Roy, Connolly and Gaustad nor was there anybody to step in for the seventy-seven games Connolly missed over the past three seasons.

Regier has also undervalued leadership, ignoring a repentant Peca after losing his co-Captains in 2007 waiting a full year to trade for a player who was captain material in Craig Rivet in 2008 and only adding leadership to the forwards another year later in 2009 with the signing of Mike Grier.

♦ He doesn’t trade.  Regier has made one offseason acquisition via trade over the past three years, an inexcusable fact considering the team’s lack of success over that period and Regier’s aversion towards the free agent market.  Sure he stole Briere, Dumont and Lydman, but he’s also had his fair share of mind-numbing screw ups.  His awful returns for Hasek and Peca combined with an ownership scandal to cause Buffalo’s three straight finishes outside of the postseason from 2001 to 2004. More recently, he’s failed to improve the team at the deadline or in the offseason.  When Dainus Zubrus is your most productive pickup in early March over five seasons and none of your acquisitions have spent a full season with your team, there’s a problem.  Ditto when Craig Rivet is your most notable trade return over four years.

♦ He’s had issues building from within, too.  When you won’t trade or sign free agents to bolster your roster, you only have one option left; building from the draft.  Unfortunately for Darcy Regier, he hasn’t been firing on all cylinders there either.  Three straight years of mediocre (Drew Stafford) to awful (Persson, Zagrappan) first round picks combined with few later round hits (Butler, Weber, Sekera, Kaleta) left the talent pool stripped bare for several seasons (although Regier was dynamite with the 2008 draft).  Additionally, the aforementioned lack of center depth is rooted in Regier only taking two projected centers in the first four rounds over seven years.

Considering that Regier is the NHL’s longest tenured GM, his track record should be comparable to that of Ken Holland in Detroit or Lou Lamorello in New Jersey.  It isn’t even close.  Regier has never won the Stanley Cup and has meddled his way into dismantling two separate high caliber teams.  He’s responsible for the current roster that has frustrated fans for three straight years and has made no attempt to change a core that he designated out of desperation.

It’s time for a new vision from the Sabres’ front office.

Coming soon:

Part Two: The Case Against Ruff

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4 Comments on Sabres Housecleaning Pt. 1- Case Against Regier

  1. John

    Blame Larry Quinn for the Drury debacle. It was all his fault whether he will admit it or not.

  2. jon

    if the series wasn’t so close i could understand, well maybe not. Regier gets no credit for drafting myers.ennis and adam in one draft. too many sour notes from the buffalo sports scene. the team finished first in the division and it didn’t matter to anyone. some how thats Regier’s fault?

    chara was better then myers
    recchi was better then kennedy
    satan was better then stafford
    boychuck was better then rivet
    Krejci better then connolly
    sturm played hecht didn’t

    going back to drury and briere is just ape shit. lets consider how that style of game isn’t even viable.

    lets send stafford,rivet and connolly packing. talking about getting rid of regier and ruff accomplishes what? we made the playoffs.

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  4. Jim

    Regier would have been history in any other organization years ago.
    Now lets get on the “No Cup Ruff.”

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