Last week you #suffered along with us as we explored three reasons why “Darcy Regier just can’t be fired… yet.”
This week we’re following that up with the crowd pleaser. We’re presenting three reasons why Darcy can and should be given the axe today, each of which based on the entirety of his tenure, and not just this historically woeful season.
1. Ruff and Rolston
The handling of Lindy Ruff was a sentimental roller-coaster for most of us as fans, but his long lasting tenure was fundamentally unsound. When mired in a losing culture, at some point or another, you have to cut the cord and start over with a new bench boss. Of course, Lindy is one of the more respected coaches in the NHL, but we weren’t going anywhere with him behind the bench. One might also put the blame on Terry “He ain’t goin’ nowhere” Pegula for hanging onto Ruff for way too long, but ultimately this falls on Regier.
Ruff’s curiously long tenure pales in comparison to the curious hiring process that brought in his replacement. Did I say process? I meant the lack of. Ron Rolston was hired with a good enough resume, his handling of the US National Development program seemed to make him a natural fit when they hired him to help nurture this young team. And it probably would have worked out great, if they kept him in Rochester after said hire.
Instead, Darcy decided to promote him to the NHL as Ruff’s interim replacement, and then tore off the interim tag for this season. There was no true interview process. No other coaching candidates were brought in.
Many fans, bloggers and media types were clamoring for Patrick Roy (myself included), but in all fairness, if St. Patrick wants to return to Colorado, he’s going to return to Colorado. No interview would have changed that.
But again – no other candidates were brought in. This stands out as more than curious. It’s baffling. Even if Rolston is going to be The Guy, a hockey team has to bring other hockey minds to the interview table. There is a massive amount of talent available for 30 NHL coaching gigs, and each one comes with different approaches and possibly extremely effective ideas. To ignore and eliminate all that talent without even sitting down and meeting with it first is perplexing at best, and given Rolston’s record so far, it’s pretty damning at its worst.
2. Trades and W’s
We touched upon Darcy’s recent trade hauls as a big reason to retain him (for now) in our previous post. Now it’s time to refute ourselves.
Indeed, Regier has a long history of getting great returns via the trade market, (something which I wrote about before). Unfortunately, rarely has his haul translated to wins, or playoff appearances.
Blame the coach if you want, but as mentioned above, Darcy stuck by his coach – and their combined efforts ultimately resulted in failure, season after season.
Blame the scouting department if you choose, but as Kevin Devine asked the draft table before the selection of Nikita Zadorov with their 2nd early selection in the first round of the last draft – “Do you want to be #ToughToPlayAgainst?” The Sabres are tough to play against. They lead in hits after nearly every game. Unfortunately, they also usually wind up with a -3,458 corsi number, and oh yea, a loss.
At some point, a GM has to find a way to turn his assets into W’s. And after such a hilariously long tenure as Regier’s, a GM has to turn success into a Stanley Cup.
3. The Buffalo Stigma
Nobody wants to play in Buffalo. Despite our architecture, despite our best efforts at #BuffaloForReal and waterfront development including that priceless hockey gem of the Harbor Center – nobody wants to come here to lace up the skates unless they’re playing for the other team.
You might try to lay the blame on the city for that one. You know. A once great, but now run-down-and-out rust belt city with some great restaurants and some really great problems. Who would want to play in that kind of town?
Oh yea, Detroit.
Detroit is not exactly your model city, but it is at least a model of winning hockey. There is nothing about the city of Buffalo that keeps NHL UFA’s away. It’s the lack of winning. It’s Regier’s Sabres’ long-standing losing culture.
In the end, that falls on Darcy. It should fall hard enough to get Pegula’s attention, but so far Terry has chosen to stick by his GM.
And well, that sticks us all with an old, tired out, losing culture. Hashtag: Suffering.
Are you kidding me? Is this even for real? I don’t care if this stemmed from the Miller/Lucic incident – this is no way to build a hockey team. Is it important to have a shut down defense? Well yes, obviously. How about some rugged wingers that win the battles along the boards and in the corners? Sure. What’s missing here? First line talent.
Every great hockey team finds a way to utilize elite talent on offense. #ToughToPlayAgainst has done nothing for the Sabres 1st line talent except shed it in the trade market.
(Note: This is no knock on Zadorov – he’s as steady and punishing as they come, and should be a joy to watch as he matures in his game.)
For now, maybe we’re lucky to have Darcy still on board. So long as he keeps stockpiling drafts and promising prospects, there will be a great foundation in Buffalo to build on.
For the long term, I would hope that the Sabres bring in a better talent evaluator. It’s time to let another GM take over with that bevvy of draft picks and prospects, and do something Darcy has never been able to do – put together a winning, elite team.
I consider the 05-07 run to be pretty magical, but also pretty unexpected by everyone in the hockey world. And in the end, whatever happened to that squad? Whatever happened to that winning culture?
Whatever will happen to Darcy?
Your move, Terry.