Lindy Ruff lasted 16 years as the Sabres' head coach, all of them spent under GM Darcy Regier. Ruff's good friend gave him the news in February his time here was up and Regier himself got that news late last night from owner Terry Pegula. So did Ruff's replacement, Ron Rolston.
So Sportsnet Insider and ex-NHLer Nick Kypreos, joined by John Shannon and Scott Morrison, set Sabreland on its ear last night with his "report" that Darcy Regier is on the hot seat. If you missed it, click below to play it and then keep reading for some thoughts.
"No truth to the report" is the official comment from the Sabres today, given to both yours truly and WGR Radio in the 8 a.m. hour. Fair enough. You wouldn't expect them to say otherwise for one thing. But at the same time, if something was in fact going down, they wouldn't say that either. You'd get a no-comment or you might not even get any answer to your inquiry.
(I'm not going to get into the credibility of another media outlet other than to say if you're going to breathlessly make a claim like this, it would be nice if you didn't identify Ken Sawyer as the Sabres' team president. The president, of course, is Ted Black.)
So let's think a little deeper on this one. Should Regier be fired? In the eyes of just about everyone, sure. But why now and not, say, July 2, 2007? But more seriously, why now and not May, 2013?
If you're going to endure "suffering" and you're going to rebuild, why would you let the same old GM hire a coach without interviewing anyone else, run the draft, do little in free agency, do nothing with Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, go through training camp -- and then fire him eight games into the season?
And on the other side of things, if the Sabres did put Regier on some kind of notice, why would he not have spent the summer stocking up on some veterans trying to win a few games to make sure his job stayed safe so he'd be able to see through the rebuild?
Regier, remember, got a contract extension from owner Terry Pegula that was announced the day before last season's opener. And in his one "interview" after the season on the Sabres' paid program on WGR, Pegula rhetorically asked host Kevin Sylvester, "What has Darcy done wrong?" Those would be pretty embarrassing statements to have to backtrack on so quickly. Talk about changing on the fly.
(Pegula wouldn't want to hear my answer to his question but that's not the point. That's what he said. So be it).
It's obvious to anyone who has been in First Niagara Center lately that the "clarion call" (apologies to Black) has never been louder for Regier to get pink-slipped. Those "Fi-re Dar-cy" chants eminanting from Section 317 near the press box spread around the upper level during that dreary Columbus game. And fans can have impact with such actions, as they did with Ron Wilson in Toronto. If it continues and if the number of empty seats grows, you wonder how far Pegula will feel his back is against the wall. After all, he did once say "Lindy ain't goin nowhere" and we know what happened there.
Sabres fans are going to hear a lot of these kinds of reports in the coming months, especially about Vanek and Miler, and will need to ferret out what's legitimate from what seems to be just thrown at the wall hoping something sticks. Last point: Kypreos had Miller about to be traded any day in May. Seems like No. 30 got a win on Long Island last night in the game I was watching.
It sounds like Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek could remain with the Sabres for a while. General Manager Darcy Regier hopes Cody Hodgson sticks around, too.
Buffalo's veterans gathered for physicals today and will begin skating Thursday, and Regier hopes Hodgson will be on the ice in First Niagara Center. The team has yet to work out a contract with the restricted free agent, who was second on the team in scoring last season.
"We continue to work on his contract," Regier said today. "I’ve had conversations
with his agent on a couple of occasions this morning. I spoke briefly with
Cody. Both sides are working hard on this.
Darcy Regier met the media between periods of tonight's development camp scrimmage and there was no big news unveiled in the 10-minute chat, other than the confirmation that Chadd Cassidy has been promoted from interim coach of the Rochester Amerks to the permanent bench boss in place of Ron Rolston.
As with every chat with Regier, the topic of Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek came up again and the response was much the same. Asked if he's getting resigned to the fact he may have both of them at training camp, Regier said, "I think that's fair. The nature of this business is that as we move through July lineups get more and more settled, there's less movement. Once training camp starts, things begin to change some again."
Regier said most conversations he's had with other GMs involve taking in money, a clear reference to the fact the Sabres aren't likely to be able to move the entire contract of either Vanek or Miller in a year the salary cap is shrinking to $64.3 million.
Regier said there's been no negotiations with Miller, Vanek or fellow 2014 UFA Steve Ott. "Talking to my counterparts around the league, that's not
unusual right now," he said. "For whatever reason, there's not a lot of activity on
players that are going to become unrestricted in '14."
Terry Pegula says he talks to Darcy Regier more than his own wife. The chats have convinced the Buffalo Sabres’ owner he has the right general manager despite a playoff history that suggests otherwise.
“He is a very qualified person,” Pegula said today during an appearance on the Sabres’ radio show. “I don’t want to talk about prior ownership. I have a different management style, and Darcy has a chance to flourish under our management style. I’m giving him, I believe, more latitude in the way we operate the team with less financial restrictions.
“When you look at the history, even with the Sabres, what’s he done wrong? Help me out here. I’m going to ask the question. You gonna talk about some of the past deals. Maybe someone was holding the painter’s hand while he was doing the painting.”
Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston went 15-11-5 after taking over for Lindy Ruff in February.
By John Vogl
Darcy Regier will announce Ron Rolston's fate in the near future, the Sabres' general manager said today.
Regier and Rolston met earlier this week about whether to remove Rolston's tag of interim coach. Rolston went 15-11-5 after taking over for Lindy Ruff in February.
"No decisions yet," Regier told reporters in Rochester as part of the Amerks' locker clean-out day. "Fairly soon in the case of the head coach in Buffalo, and then Rochester will follow. Those are conversations we’re going to have."
Regier again said the team is interested in moving up from the eighth spot in the draft.
"I have talked to the teams that are in front of us, or most of them, and if we’re in a position to move up it’s something that we would entertain doing," Regier said, "but we also feel this is a deep draft."
Ted Black and Darcy Regier. (Harry Scull/Buffalo News)
By Mike Harrington
As you would surmise, I have been deluged with comments/questions/criticisms/attaboys/epithets and everything in between in the wake of yesterday's Sabres season-ending press conference. I read them all and regular followers of my Twitter feed know I do my best to answer as many legitimate requests/opinions as possible.
In this case, however, that's pretty much impossible. But there have been many solid questions, many repeated times over, that it's probably best to answer them here. Some thoughts in no particular order:
---1). Ticket talk -- The No. 1 question people wanted asked was obviously the status of Darcy Regier and it was the first question asked and answered. By far the No. 2 inquiry was to demand answers about what in the world the Sabres were doing with a ticket price hike being announced in the face of a non-playoff year -- and with letters about the details arriving on Fan Appreciation Day.
After the presser, I got all kinds of crazy comments about people wanting to know why so much time was spent on tickets! Say what? The first thought is those people must not be ticket holders. The second is that Ted Black tied reasoning to the NHL CBA and the team was harshly criticized Sunday by the New York Post. We had similar concerns but held them until we could ask Black about them Monday. Black's insistence that the Sabres needed to qualify for revenue sharing brought more follow-up questions because it flew in the face of the owner's long-stated platform (since the owner doesn't speak to the media and thus the fans, I'm omitting his name here).
Darcy Regier says he understands that Sabres fans have suffered. He's willing to bet they'd be OK with suffering more if the pain results in a Stanley Cup.
The Sabres' bet is that Regier is the one who can bring that championship.
Regier and team President Ted Black wrapped up the 2013 season today with a news conference in First Niagara Center. As they move toward next season, Black made it clear the Sabres will do so with Regier in the general manager's chair, which he's sat in since 1997.
"I don’t take any of this for granted in any way," Regier said. "I’m extremely grateful, not just for this opportunity but for being here even on a day like today; this is great. The reality of it is if I didn’t have the confidence that I in the general manager’s position, along with the people I work with, could accomplish building a Stanley Cup winner, I wouldn’t be here."
3 p.m. update: The Sabres did, in fact, leave for Boston and Wednesday night's game against the Bruins is on as scheduled with a 7:30 telecast on NBC Sports Network. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the team's plan didn't change: A 3 p.m. flight today from Prior Aviation to Hanscom Field in suburban Bedford, Mass., and then a bus trip to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the edge of Boston Common.
The hotel is about 1 1/2 miles from the blast sites on Boylston Street at the finish line of the marathon.
"It's not far from the Boston Library, Lenox Hotel," said general manager Darcy Regier, pointing out two landmarks in the city's Back Bay. "I looked at the map. We're very familiar with that area. It unfortunately casts a different light on everything."
Regier said his thoughts flashed back to a trip to training camp in South Carolina through New York City shortly after 9/11 in 2001. And to the days after the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Clarence Center in 2009.
Thomas Vanek knew big changes were coming once Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said he was listening to offers on all his players.
"It hasn’t happened in the past. I'm sure there were talks but never publicly," Buffalo's leading scorer said today after taking Jason Pominville to the airport to join his new team, Minnesota. "Now with Jason gone, that obviously sends a message that change is happening."
Regier said the rebuilding process could take years. Vanek and Ryan Miller have one year left on their contracts, so they're eager to sit down with the GM and hear his plan.
Darcy Regier says maybe the Buffalo Sabres could have enjoyed another late surge and sneaked into a playoff spot. But the odds of winning the Stanley Cup this season were extremely slim, so the general manager was determined to look toward the future.
"The preference is to build for a Stanley Cup rather than a playoff spot," Regier said today after trading captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota for two prospects and a pair of draft picks, including a first-round selection this June. "It's no fun being where we are. There's no enjoyment, but there is an opportunity."
The Sabres' impressive win over Pittsburgh apparently has not changed Darcy Regier's plan for his team.
The general manager told Sabres.com this morning that this trade deadline day is different for him because he's looking toward the future instead of this season.
"It’s different because we’re where we are in the standings and where we are given the shortened season," Regier told the team website. "Our focus has moved to next season and even beyond that. It changes how we view our current lineup, our current roster, and it changes … we’re moving the timeline down a little bit."
Ryan Miller is just as curious as anyone as to what Darcy Regier's plans are for the trade deadline.
Regier said tonight he is open to listening to trade offers for any and all Sabres players. The general manager added he wants to build around a group that will be in Buffalo on a multiyear basis.
Miller's contract -- and those of Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek -- expires at the end of next season, but the goaltender doesn't view Regier's comments as evidence of an immediate overhaul heading toward Wednesday's trade deadline.
Ryan Miller wondered aloud this month whether veterans such as himself, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek were still the Buffalo Sabres’ core. Given the team’s struggles, the goaltender didn’t know whether management viewed a rebuild as its ideal course of action.
General Manager Darcy Regier gave his clearest indication to date he is contemplating franchise overhaul.
“Where our hockey club is right now we have to be open to listening to just about anything and everything, and I am listening,” Regier said tonight after trading Jordan Leopold to St. Louis. “We have to be open to everything, and I think the players recognize that as well.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.