The more times goes by, the more I believe that Darcy Regier will be here next season as the Sabres' general manager. When Lindy Ruff was fired earlier in the season, a lot of observers assumed the general manager would also be jettisoned if the Sabres missed the playoffs this season. I'm not so sure of that.
Regier is busy at work "rebuilding" the team. He traded Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr. On Tuesday, Jason Pominville confirmed that he had given Regier a list of teams to which he wouldn't approve a trade. Does this look like a GM who is destined to be fired? If Terry Pegula was going to let Regier go after the season, why would he allow him to go about reshaping his team?
I know someone has to make the personnel moves at the trade deadline. Maybe Pegula and Co. figure Regier can make simple moves for draft picks and be replaced later. It just doesn't seem plausible to me. It looks and sounds as if Regier has been put in charge of a short-term rebuilding. If I had to bet, I would wager that he would be the general manager next season.
Pegula wants desperately to believe in Regier. He was extremely fond of Regier and Ruff. I suspect he would rather not give up on both of them this quickly. Remember, Regier was given high marks for his work at last year's deadline, for getting a first-round pick for Paul Gaustad and dealing Zack Kassian for Cody Hodgson. It was seen as one of his best efforts at the deadline.
When the team failed on the ice, it was Ruff who was held responsible. I believe there is still a lot of belief in Regier at the top of the organization. Bucky Gleason was told recently that top brass are trying to convince Pegula that the media is the problem, and that certain Buffalo News writers are out to get Regier. This tells me they really want to believe Regier is better than his reputation, and that he has the team on the verge of contending with a younger, more talented roster.
Consider this quote from Regier after the Regehr trade: "We indicated to him that we were going to look toward next season and we're really going to look toward building this team not just to move it into the playoffs but to go deep into the playoffs. No one is quite sure of the time line but we're certainly going to focus on next season."
Translation: They're not really rebuilding, folks. Renew your season tickets, because Regier is simply reshaping a young roster for a serious playoff run with the young, promising roster he has put together in the last couple of years. He's a hockey genius who has been compromised by bad coaching, injuries and circumstance.
Maybe I'm wrong. I don't pretend to have any insight into Pegula's thinking. But I do believe the owner would rather buy the notion that we're too tough on Regier than face the reality of finding someone new to run the operation.