This past week wasn’t spent learning about Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff. Larry Quinn and his fellow owners of the Buffalo Sabres already know all about them. Regier and Ruff have been with the team since 1997, so secrets are few and far between.
What Quinn wanted to know during his meetings and evaluations was whether Regier and Ruff still have the vision to end the Sabres’ two-year playoff drought.
He wanted to know if the duo has the ability to generate new ideas despite being on the job for 11 seasons.
He wanted to know if Ruff and Regier could admit to their share of mistakes on a team that has gone from the Presidents’ Trophy to two long offseasons.
It appears Quinn found the answers he sought. Ruff and Regier will return to their roles next season, as Sabres ownership announced today it has faith in professional sports’ longest-tenured coach and GM combination.
"We know them real well," Quinn said in a phone call with The News. "The issues that we had were not about their abilities. We wanted to see if they had the energy, the vision, if they could still keep it fresh, if they could honestly look at what went wrong, if we get people to look at it and go along for the ride."
The Sabres have missed the playoffs in five of the past seven seasons. Following this second consecutive failure, Quinn promised the "most thorough top-to-bottom evaluation ever done here." He said today the review is only 5 percent complete. It was enough to persuade him to keep Regier in the front office and Ruff behind the bench.
Part of the evaluation has focused on players. The development and production of numerous players either stalled or dwindled this season. Ownership has a core of Sabres it is certain can lead the team toward the Stanley Cup, and Quinn wanted to make sure those players could have a healthy relationship with the people deciding their contracts and playing time.
"We just know who the players are that are critical to the success of this team," Quinn said. "Players have got to be involved if we’re going to have success. It’s not a case of the inmates running the asylum, but if we’re going ask them to step up and assume leadership, they have to be part of the process."