The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Apparently, we Sabres fans haven’t yet begun to suffer.
At least that’s what general manager Darcy Regier said during the team’s semi-annual end-of-season, explain-away-the-failure press conference.
Asked the direction the franchise will take in the coming years, Regier offered up this gem on rebuilding the roster.
”I understand our fan base, and I would like to think that people will give up some suffering in order to win a Stanley Cup. I’m willing to do it. I believe our fan base is willing to do it.”
Now entering his 17th season in Buffalo you’d think Regier would be able to demonstrate some understanding of what the fans — including this one — think.
To put it mildly, obviously we’re willing to suffer. There wouldn’t be a sucker left in the building if we weren’t gluttons for punishment. To imply we’ve been a bunch of happy little campers after missing the playoffs for the second straight season — not to mention the decades of futility punctuated by only a few fleeting moments of greatness — is nothing short of an insult.
On the same day they announced an increase in season ticket prices — one Sabres President Ted Black was necessary to maintain their portion of the league’s revenue sharing — the GM’s message is, “we’ve not yet begun to suffer.”
(There’s a nomination for the 2013-14 season slogan!)
Say good-bye to franchise cornerstones Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. Fans can and will debate whether one or both should be kept around. Both have their fair share — and Vanek, I’d argue, an unfair share — of critics who would be delighted to see the veteran stars traded.
I’m not so certain that makes sense but I understand the impulse to clean house.
What I can’t understand is why Regier is still the guy to make those decisions.
This will be the Sabres’ third attempt at rebuilding under Regier’s tenure. Of the teams he’s assembled only once were they a legitimate contender to win the Stanley Cup. They made the finals in 1999 on Dominik Hasek’s back but were outclassed and overmatched. In 2005-06 they came roaring out of the lockout and were within a period of advancing to face a weak seventh seed in the finals when a rash of unprecedented injuries to defensemen finally caught up to them.
The following year the team won the President’s Trophy for best regular season record but faded down the stretch and got their tails handed to them by the Ottawa Senators in the conference finals.
So really, they’ve had three memorable seasons out of 16 in Regier’s tenure.
He’s now been the face of failure through three different owners and three different coaches.
His penchant for speedy but too-small, inconsistent forwards and meek teams that are easily intimidated have turned a lunch pail town’s team into one with a reputation as a bunch of weak, loser pushovers.
Regier’s incompetence has so thoroughly permeated this franchise Terry Pegula’s promise of building a Stanley Cup contender that once had fans dreaming big now seems perfunctory. Players like Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford who once seemed filled with potential now look like washouts with bloated contracts signed on a wing and a prayer.
Regier has shows an ability, once in a while, to pull off a nice trade. He got good return in dealing Jason Pominville. He plucked Danny Briere out of obscurity and he blossomed into a legitimate star.
But for a generation that is defined far more by the franchise’s failures than successes, there is now only one constant: Darcy Regier.
If they’re willing to write off next season and maybe one after that Regier obviously still has a long, long leash to continue his tenure in Buffalo. If Pegula and company are trusting Darcy to rebuild this franchise anew maybe he’s right.
Maybe the suffering has only just begun.
Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.