Darcy Regier:

Darcy’s Deadline Moves: Why We DON’T Want Them

Leopold for a 2nd and a 5th/4th? And it was not even deadline day? Great value. From there, let’s examine the future of the Sabres’ GM…

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The Interim

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We’re all in this together.

Ron Rolston is the new interim coach, and his Sabres are currently basking in the glow of their sweep of the Sunshine State.

Rolston, as it was announced by Darcy Regier, is here as an interim coach. He’s on a tryout. He’s been tweaking a few things. Tinkering. Trying to get The Most Inconsistently Working Team in Hockey working again. He’s a very knowledgeable man, and I wish him the best of luck. But this is a try-out for him.

Nothing is guaranteed for Rolston, and the same should be said for the rest of the Sabres.

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SEASON PREVIEW, PART 2: The Smart Tweets, and a Prediction

Remember hockey? It’s back.

This is what it used to feel like:

 

Then we were dragged through hockey hell…

 

Fan reaction happened. This was the smartest, in my opinion:

 

And now hockey is back, and in a wonderful new way:

 

Obviously, you can add Ennis to that old tweet.

A new era of Sabres hockey begins this weekend. A few big pieces of the old core (Pominville, Vanek, Roy, Stafford and Hecht) remain in the Blue and Gold, but the culture has vastly changed. Gone are Roy and Connolly, whose games brought plenty of flair but never struck any fear against the opposition.

Yes, the Sabres haven’t played a single game yet. But they look fearsome on paper. And don’t think for a minute other teams haven’t been reading up.

 

Remember the “Hardest Working Team in Hockey?” By far, that Ted Nolan led squad was not the most talented group of guys in the league, but they were fun as hell to watch. And they were a hell of a team to play against.

This year’s squad is an intriguing mix of – dare I say it – elite talent AND fear inducing grinders. Obviously, Vanek, Pominville, Ennis (possibly even Grigorenko) et al will put up the points. This team has never really been at a lack for goal scoring in recent years. The trade of Roy for Ott might seem like a swap of points for punches, but that is far too simple. That trade might be the centerpiece around what is really an entire culture change for the Sabres.

A return to a “Hardest working team in Hockey” mentality.

A return to a team that opponents fear to play against.

Yes, the Sabres haven’t played a single game yet. But they look fearsome on paper. And don’t think for a minute other teams haven’t been reading up.

  • Foligno
  • Gerbe
  • Kaleta
  • McCormick
  • Ott
  • Scott
  • Regehr
  • Weber

Darcy Regier has been slowly, quietly writing his roster on sandpaper. Ott is just the latest piece. The best part about this new “grit,” really, is that most of these guys can score. Foligno, Gerbe, and Ott can chirp, hit, and chip in their share of points. McCormick can score. Kaleta’s got offense.

These are the types of guys that make a team a nightmare to play against – they keep the opposition’s head on a swivel and help to keep the red light active all at once. It sure doesn’t hurt that they make it far easier for guys like Vanek and Pominville to play their game.

Hockey Heaven has some Hell on ice in store for the NHL for this go around.

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This is going to be a fun ride.

 

FEARSOME Prediction:

The Sabres will take the NE Division. They’ve got veteran scoring up front, and dynamic young studs like Ennis and Hodgson that are ready to come out and party. They are deep and seasoned corps at defense. They have a roster infused with former and current team captains. They have a (former) Vezina winning goaltender and a very capable backup. They’ve got two checking lines that can control the puck and the boards (or put it the puck in the net and the bodies into the dashers).

Most importantly, this is a team to fear. Last year’s late-season mantra of “We’ve got to take their will away from them” is going to be a lot easier this time around.

Badass.

I’m hoping that’s the word that sticks to Buffalo this year. That, and playoffs.

Give ’em hell, boys.

Go Sabres.

 

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The Sabres Are On Track For Greatness; Just (Maybe) Not This Year

By most accounts, trade deadline day was declared a Festivus miracle. Like most trades, we’ll have to wait a few years to really see how things shake out, but on the surface – on paper, the Sabres appear to be big winners.

Heading into the day, only the most foolhardy optimists could have thought the Sabres would get a 1st for Gaustad (well plus that 4th we had to throw in, but still). Then the Kassian & Gragnani for Hodgson & Sulzer trade …. well, wowser. Darcy must have been feeling the heat of the hashtag and indeed #didSomething, using his Jedi mind tricks to bend other GMs to his will. (I like to think he’s a Sith, using treachery, intimidation and over-the-phone Force chokes.)

Or, more likely this was the Sabres’ plan all along: don’t do anything drastic and sell the farm now just to try to make the playoffs, but instead stay the course and do what we can to improve for the long haul, slowly building towards being a championship-caliber team.

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Cody Hodgson. I feel like it should be pronounced Hod-g-son. Shouldn't there be an 'e' in there somewhere? Must be a Canadian thing. Probably the same reason he plays 'centre'.

I’m certainly sad to see Kassian go, not just because I have a Badassian t-shirt from Hockey Heaven. (Which, incidentally they’re so cool they’re offering 50% off the purchase of a new Cody Hodgson #19CoHo shirt.) I love me a good power foward with grit, who is hard to knock off the puck  and will fight – it’s perhaps my favorite type of player. We haven’t seen that in B-lo for some time and Kassian had/has that potential.

But of course, potential is just that and we needed a center. It was the right thing for the Sabres, and Sulzer for Gragnani seems like an upgrade for us as well. Even if Sulzer doesn’t improve much, he won’t be the meek turnover machine that MAG was. Plus, Ehrhoff will have a German buddy who played in Vancouver to hang out with. Maybe those two will synergize into something stronger than the two of them individually, like a monstrous German-speaking Voltron-like robot that smashes anyone who crosses our blue line into a thin paste yet has a (literal) rocket slapshot. Sorry, I was daydreaming a bit there, but I do believe the possibility for them to both improve in each other’s presence is there.

Of course I have to type the obligatory “sucks to see Gaustad go” that every Sabres blogger has had to do. I don’t think I need to expand on that much, but for some reason I didn’t realize he was 6’5″ until today. He didn’t seem that big on the ice and knowing that makes me think that he could’ve (and should’ve) played a little bit tougher. Yes, he’s awesome at faceoffs and plays center against the other teams top line and all that – but for his asking price, it was the right move. The worst thing about that is breaking up the oft-used Gaustad/Kaleta/Gerbe line. I loved that line: high energy and tenacious as all get out. And no, I don’t think there’s a snowballs chance in hell that we’ll be able to get Goose back in the offseason.

So the Sabres are in a better place and geared up for the future. We’ve taken more steps in the right direction and yet we can still take a run at the playoffs this year. I now feel less apprehensive about having to make the playoffs now and more secure in the fact that we’re on our way to greatness.

 The Sabres Are On Track For Greatness; Just (Maybe) Not This Year

I'll miss this mug. I hope Kassian does well - but not TOO well to make us really regret trading him.

Now the bad news: Washington is 7 points ahead of us. Damn you Dale Hunter! Perhaps we did ourselves a disservice by lambasting the Caps earlier this year and helping to get Bruce Boudreau fired.

Ah well, Go Sabres and remember to grab some powernaps for the upcoming late games on the slate!

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Possible topic of discussion for the comments: Do you feel more comfortable with the team now after these trades? Do you feel like we still have to make a push for the playoffs? Or are you more relaxed and ok with not making the playoffs as long as we’re building towards a much better team?

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No One Said Winning the Stanley Cup Would Be Easy

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Well that certainly didn’t turn out like we Sabres fans had hoped. I refer to both the Maple Leafs game as well as the entirety of the season so far. Now heading into the Christmas break, we are downtrodden and looking in on the teams with better playoff position like street urchin children staring in through a window on merry revelers eating a huge feast.

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Spare a shilling, sir? Per'aps a scrap of food or an overtime point?

Yeah it sucks right about now. All the offseason hype is fading, the Pegulamania has died down and fans are growing negative. Perhaps rightfully so: the on-ice product isn’t what we want or what we were promised by the Sabres front office.

Steve Jobs is one of my all-time heroes and something he said seems appropriate:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. -Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

We can’t know how the story will play out for the Sabres. However we can take solace in the fact that we’re all in it together and that we now have an owner willing to do whatever’s in his power to make a championship happen. I’m willing to take some lumps with the team and see how this shakes out. It’ll be a hard, long road but well worth it.

This is, after all, Hockey Heaven. Hockey Heaven doesn’t mean that you automatically win every game or that they just hand you the Cup at the end of the year because Pegula hath declared it to be so.

Hockey Heaven isn’t about winning the Stanley Cup RIGHT NOW. It’s about much more than that. Yes, the Sabres are 3-5-2 in their last ten games and injuries shouldn’t be an excuse for that. But we can ride the wave, secure in the knowledge that the Sabres are willing to go for broke. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have a decade of winning with maybe a couple of Stanley Cups over one quick season where we won it all and then degraded quickly into mediocrity?

If the ship doesn’t get righted quickly, we may see a trade or two. I don’t expect Lindy or Darcy Regier to go anywhere soon, as the Sabres management has emphatically stated (and we’ve reiterated) they’re not going anywhere.

Yeah, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. However, when we finally do reach the promised land, it’s going to be soooo much sweeter.

A merry Sabres Christmas to you and LET’S GO BUFF-A-LO!

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