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.
Mikhail Grigorenko just wasn't ready for big minutes with the Sabres, so General Manager Darcy Regier decided today the rookie center was better off getting prime ice time in the playoffs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Sabres have sent the 18-year-old back to the Quebec Remparts, but Regier feels Grigorenko learned a lot about what he needs to do to be an NHL player, which should benefit his future.
"I think this has been a very good thing," Regier said about Grigorenko's NHL debut season.
With the Sabres near the bottom of the NHL and the trade deadline approaching April 3, Regier said the team needs to find a way to acquire more good players. But ...
"I'm not in a blow-it-up mind-set," Regier said.
To hear all his thoughts, click the audio file below.
Lindy Ruff spent 26 years with the Buffalo Sabres as a coach and player. The run came to an end Wednesday. The Buffalo News has it covered:
*Ruff came to First Niagara Center for practice, meeting some of his players and looking at video before heading to a news conference to honor high schoolers who will take the ice downtown next week. It was like any other day in Sabreland.
Ruff then worked his struggling team hard on the ice, a 90-minute practice that was one of the longest of the season. He met the media for 4 minutes, cutting off questions a little earlier than on most days this season. Then he headed out to his home in Clarence.
*When it actually happened, Bucky Gleason writes, my first thought wasn't about the Sabres finally making a bold move that they owed their fan base. I wasn't thinking about who would replace him. Strangely enough, it was about how much I owed Lindy Ruff, knowing that I could never repay him.
*Regier arrived 20 minutes late to announce that he had fired Lindy Ruff as his head coach, Jerry Sullivan writes. It was fitting, because like so many of the general manager’s moves, this one was long overdue.
*Ruff dreamed of holding the Stanley Cup in his adopted town of Buffalo. He pictured himself skating around Memorial Auditorium with the chalice over his head. He envisioned himself clutching the Cup on the bench in First Niagara Center.
Ryan Miller was on the team bus, ready to depart for Toronto this afternoon when Lindy Ruff came aboard and told the Sabres players he'd been fired as coach.
"We’re not playing great hockey, and there’s a lot of pressure on the organization I can imagine right now," Miller said during a phone call with The Buffalo News. "Ownership or management need to do something. It’s unfortunate. I feel like it’s a situation we put the coach in. We weren’t executing. If we were executing but still losing, I think that’s one thing. But we’re not playing the game the right way.
Darcy Regier says Lindy Ruff is still the man to turn the Sabres around. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
By Mike Harrington
If you're thinking about a particular move to provide a quick fix for the slumping Sabres -- specificially the firing of coach Lindy Ruff -- you better think again.
I spoke earlier this evening to General Manager Darcy Regier and asked him the following question: If things go poorly this weekend, how much will you be forced into big change, whether it's players or the coach?
The Sabres ended their morning skate today like they often do -- with coach Lindy Ruff calling them over to the boards across the rink from their bench for a quick chat. But as the group broke up, sticks were tapped on the ice and a few gloves face-washed rookie Mikhail Grigorenko in a form of hockey-team congratulations.
Ruff had just broken the news to the players that Sabres fans everywhere were waiting to hear: Grigorenko is staying in the NHL. He'll be in the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"It's really amazing news and I'm really happy and really excited," Grigorenko said. "It's a good step in my career and I'll do everything to show people they made the right choice."
General Manager Darcy Regier told The News Monday night that Grigorenko would likely have stayed in juniors this year had this been a regular 82-game season. But Regier said now that he's starred for half a season in the Quebec League and for Russia in the World Junior Championships, his NHL timetable was accelerated.
After making the customary apology to fans virtually every NHL owner has made this week in the wake of the lockout, Sabres owner Terry Pegula dropped a surprise on reporters at the start of his 22-minute news conference today in the Lexus Club at First Niagara Center: He has agreed to a contract extension with General Manager Darcy Regier.
Regier, who took over the club in the summer of 1997, signed what's believed to be a two-year extension in the fall of 2010 and it's not completely clear how long this extension will run. The Sabres do not release contract terms but Regier's original deal was not expiring after this season anyway.
"Both sides are happy with the arrangement," Pegula said. "And we look forward to continuing to work with Darcy into the future. The timing of this decision was not today. We've been talking about this. We had this agreement for quite some time. I approached him. Darcy is a talented guy. ... We work very well together and we're looking forward to the future."
Said Regier: "I am very grateful and honored to be able to continue in this capacity working with this ownership."
In other notes from the press conference:
---Pegula on the lockout: "It's good to be back. I can tell you as an organization, the Sabres are very glad to be playing hockey again. We apologize to the whole hockey fan base, the media, our sponsors and our supporters for the hardship we may have put people through but sometimes things happen that you don't plan for in life."
---Pegula he talked often to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the lockout and said he felt it was necessary to help struggling small market teams. Pegula said he did not push for a quick resolution: "I'm a new owner so I'm not about to say, 'OK, here's what we're going to do, guys."
---Pegula said the Sabres' goal remains to win the Stanley Cup and he's been heartened by watching Boston and Los Angeles end droughts in the 40-year range by winning it the last two years.
---Regier said the team has already had organizational talks about the contracts of stars Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek -- all of which expire after next season.
---Pegula on this year's club: "I think our team is a lot different than the team I inherited when I bought it. It's got a new imprint on it, a new mark. It looks like a good hockey team."
---Pegula used the term "totally inaccurate" when asked about numerous reports in Pennsylvania he paid $1.3 million to augment the salary of Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien and keep him in Happy Valley so he wouldn't jump to the NFL.
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, is in his sixth season covering the Buffalo Sabres. 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.