As we approach the start of free agency and the draft, a lot of people are up in the air as to what is going to happen with the Buffalo Sabres.
Despite how some of my blogs come off, I’m a huge fan of the Sabres. I always have been, and I always will be. Regardless of what this team does, I’m still rooting for them. However, there has to be a certain disconnect with being a fan of a team.
What do I mean? How many people were big fans of the French Connection, Danny Gare, Pat Lafontaine, and Dominik Hasek? For those focused on the present, how about Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, and Lindy Ruff? Individuals come and go from an organization. While there is a certain attachment to players, coaches, and other members of the franchise, at any given moment they can be in a different jersey or in a different city.
I personally feel it’s more important to be a fan of the team instead of specific players. If we were all fans of specific players, then teams would have no loyal fans. While fans may not agree with certain moves that are made, be disappointed when a player retires, they still come back to witness the new team that is being shaped in front of them. Most people are understanding of deals if it’s in order to improve the team for the future, or for the better. It’s not just the cycle of hockey, it’s the cycle of sports.
Which leads me to a business approach for sports.
The same disconnect has to be in place for general managers and owners in the game (see where I’m going with this?). When a GM gets attached to his players, he can’t remain objective in making deals to better the team. Is it difficult to get rid of players? Without a doubt. However, the end result has to be the big picture.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t want to see them leave. I’m one of them. However, as I’m sure several people know, I think it’s best that it’s time to part ways with them. It’s for the future of the organization. The return on them can be great, and make way for the future of the Buffalo Sabres, and hopefully attain a Stanley Cup in the near future.
I was actually very hopeful about the Sabres moving forward and making a deal to rebuild this team, then Pegula spoke about how he wants Vanek and Miller to stay. Darcy soon reiterated that sentiment.
This is not the time to have emotional attachment to these players. It’s time to cut the umbilical fellas.
Why would Buffalo consider keeping either of these players right now? They’re contracts are up at the end of next season, and there’s a lot of speculation surrounding whether they even want to be in Buffalo.
So by all means, let’s keep them.
It has been obvious in the past that Regier is all but married to his players. There’s not a lot of willingness to move players, and there’s no question he over values them. I’m not even 100% shocked about him being so adamant about keeping Vanek and Miller. It’s not willing to buyout Leino that shocks me. No offense to Leino, but he hasn’t really done that much for the Sabres. He didn’t play well his first year in Buffalo, and was injured most of last year. He’s coming off of surgery right now. I’m curious how he’d play for Rolston, but he seems to be an ideal buyout scenario.
Nope, Darcy won’t do it.
I’m starting to think that some ego is starting to kick in here.
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with admitting that decisions made have fallen through, or didn’t work out the way that you had hoped. It’s part of the risk of being a GM. Certain decisions work, others don’t. The question is, do you accept responsibility and try to fix the problem, or do you just try to ride them out? Trying to ride them out is worthy of firing.
My concern, was when Pegula asked what Darcy has done wrong. Pegula is currently just as guilty as Darcy is with players. Except with Pegula, it’s Regier he needs to cut the umbilical with. He’s attached to his GM and doesn’t want to let him go. This is especially apparent when he finds excuses for him. Pegula alluded to someone holding Darcy’s hand while he painted. Well, who has been holding his hand the last 2 years? By that logic, Darcy did better when someone WAS holding his hand. You gave him unlimited resources and a blank check and what happens? Buffalo misses the playoffs 2 years running, and have gone from bad to worse!
I’m saying this loud and clear to Mr. Pegula;
Since you took over this hockey team, it has gone from a team that made the playoffs first year you were in charge, to a team that misses the playoffs 2 years in a row and looks atrocious doing it.
As long as Darcy is here, this team will be going nowhere. I am VERY comfortable saying this. I don’t like saying it, but unfortunately it’s true. I have 16 years of evidence to back me up.
Ownership and management alluded to fans needing to suffer for a little bit in order to get this team back on track. So, they’re asking fans to bear with them, changes will be made, and to root for the team regardless of what goes on. Management wants fans to have the approach, root for the Sabres, not for the players, and a lot of us do.
However, it gets difficult when the people in charge are so connected to the players that change doesn’t take place. I don’t care about your loyalty to players, GM’s, or even the people who serve popcorn at the arena. Moves need to be made to improve the product on the ice. When you’re overly connected, decisions can’t be made objectively, and there’s one problem that remains;
The team does not improve, and the same problems stay. Want to improve? Disconnect, and adopt this philosophy;
The end goal, is to put a better hockey team on the ice. Moves need to be made to better the team, and if you can move someone to make you’re team 5% better, you make that move. Put a better hockey team on the ice in October 2013 than you did in January 2013.
The end goal is to the team, not specific players. When it’s specific players, you will fail. Always.
That being said, I’m venturing off to First Niagara Center for the Draft Party next week. Given the last time I was in the arena, I’m very curious as to the atmosphere we will encounter. I’ll hopefully be on Twitter- (@SabresBTB) while I’m there. Feel free to throw me a follow, as we move towards what could be a make or break week for the Buffalo Sabres. My fingers are crossed that I’m talking about the moves Buffalo has made, and that we’re all getting excited for the start of the season instead of banging our heads against the wall.
As always, thanks for reading!