As many of you already are doing, I’m sitting here watching tonight’s Sabres vs Islanders game. We all know the record that’s on the line tonight. It’s not one that any Buffalo Sabres fan wants to see.
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I don’t need to do an analysis of any of the first 7 games. We all know that things aren’t good in “Hockey Heaven” right now. The ruler, Terry Pegula, no where to be seen. We’re left to the fate of Darcy Regier and Ted Black.
We all knew that suffering would be involved. That’s understandable and I don’t really have a problem with it. In order to build a Stanley Cup champion, Buffalo’s got to rebuild and do it right. Changes needed to be made and they have been.
First, new coach for the Sabres. Not just a new coach, but a pretty new coaching staff as a whole. Lindy Ruff had plenty of time to get a Cup in Buffalo, it didn’t happen. So, up comes Ron Rolston. I’ll be honest, I don’t have any problems with Rolston at this point. He has inherited a bad situation that has only gotten worse since he took over in February 2013. It’s not fair to give Rolston the reins and then when he doesn’t have success immediately, fire him. Rolston needs a chance to prove himself and it’s going to take time.
Last season, Rolston got the most out of the team that he had in front of him, and kept the Sabres in a playoff race until April 2013. This year, the team is worse, the result at the end of the night will be worse.
My issue with the coaching staff doesn’t lie with the coach. I’ll come back to this later.
Second, new roster. Oh boy is this a new roster. How many players are starting for the Sabres this year that weren’t in Buffalo at the start of last season? The roster has changed a lot and the team makeup is completely different. New players are coming in, young players who need time to develop. Again, this was expected. I’m still ok with this to a degree.
Again, there’s still a glaring problem with the new roster.
So let’s get down to why Buffalo’s future is still in jeopardy, despite this “plan” that’s in place.
We’ve all seen the adds. There’s a “blueprint” for what is going to happen in Buffalo. Who is the person who has put this blueprint together?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the one and only... Darcy Regier.
Let’s talk about the coaching decision. Regier came out and stated that Ron Rolston was the best fit and that the initial plan was to interview other coaching candidates, but that they decided against it. Now, call me crazy, but if I have a position open, I want to interview as many candidates as I can. Therefore, I get to look at everyone and hire the best possible man for the job. Now, I have no idea whether Rolston was the best man available for the Sabres head coaching position. However, I think that it’s pretty reckless to not at least see what other options were available.
Which brings me to the blueprint concept. When building something, be it a house or a hockey team, you want to explore all your options. You don’t just lock onto 1 and stick to it. So immediately into the rebuild with a new coach, we’re not looking at new solutions. We have one option in front of us, we put on the blinders, and ignore the world around us.
Now, let’s talk about the actual players. They don’t look that good. The point of hockey is to score goals. Buffalo can’t do that. Defensively, Buffalo can barely defend their end and it’s a shooting gallery night in night out for their opponents. The only 2 decent players right now on this Sabres roster is Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. The best non-goalie, I’d say is Zemgus Girgensons. That kid is playing his heart out.
As for the team as a whole, it really doesn’t look like they are even on the same page. They don’t compliment each other, and there doesn’t really seem to be a plan for specific players. It just looks like a hodgepodge on ice.
Generally, when players are brought in, called up, or traded, there’s a plan as to what is going to happen to them. I don’t see that in Buffalo.
I go back to the individuals who sign the players and assess the talent; Darcy Regier and his minions. I don’t think anyone can actually say that this man can assess talent.
So why is the Sabres future still in jeopardy?
First, a prediction. I’m guessing that Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek will be staying in Buffalo for the full 82 games this year. They will both become free agents at the end of this season, and Buffalo will lose their 2 biggest bargaining chips for absolutely nothing. Why do I say this? Why would ANY team give up draft picks, or anything else, when you know that those 2 players are going to be free agents at the end of the year? I wouldn’t make that trade unless my team was really ready to make a run for the Cup and Miller and Vanek would guarantee a Cup. I just don’t see it happening.
That alone is a big problem, and will infuriate Sabres fans. As each day passes, it doesn’t matter how well they do, they’re price trade value is plummeting. Why pay for it now, when next year, you can get it for nothing?
However, the main reason I feel that Buffalo is in a big hole with their rebuild is that the so called “blueprint” just isn’t a good one.
Now I have no idea why I would think that. Maybe Buffalo having one of the worst starts in franchise history, if not THE worst start in franchise history (tonight’s game isn’t over yet) is a good indicator.
Darcy Regier’s blueprint is currently being acted on. There’s no doubt about that. That’s the direction that the Sabres are headed in whether we as fans like it or not. Every day, we go further into his blueprint. Right now, it doesn’t look good.
Eventually, Darcy will be fired. I personally have champagne on ice waiting for the day, even though I think I have awhile to wait still.
So, as we think of the future, whoever comes in to be the new GM of the Sabres, and that day is coming, is going to have to do a lot of work not just to put a decent team on the ice, but to undo everything that Darcy has done and is continuing to do. That makes this an even more daunting task for anyone who thinks about taking over the Sabres.
What would my solution be? Pegula needs to do a complete overhaul of the GM’s office. The people who Darcy listens to, scouts, development, all of these pieces need to go. They are just as guilty as Darcy. The Sabres need a new architect for this rebuild. That new architect needs to assess the entire organization, determine what course of action will get Buffalo into the position that they need to be in. Then, the solution from that point in is simple.
Act on it.
Will this happen? Doubt it. I personally think that Pegula and Ted Black are in this for the long haul with Darcy and have committed to his concept for a rebuild. Darcy was right when he said that “suffering” is in the future of the fans. There’s only one positive thing about that.
Darcy’s time is running out in Buffalo, and this rebuild is going to be his last shot to show that he has what it takes to be a GM in the NHL.
Right now, it does not look good.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB I live chat during games (work pending) and am always up for discussing hockey...
As always, thanks for reading!
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