Tonawanda News

Opinion

November 14, 2013

DUVALL: Sabres make an ooh-la-la move, finally

Tonawanda News — It's a day late but hopefully not a dollar short but here's my take on the Sabres news this week.

About time!

An even-handed analysis of Darcy Regier's 16 seasons in Buffalo would show some impressive successes. He was a master at trading players and receiving maximum return. But on balance he failed far more than he succeeded. He had the greatest player in franchise history in goaltender Dominik Hasek but was never able to build a team around him that was a legitimate contender. He deserves credit for building a powerhouse in the 2000s, but again failed to address shortcomings, then allowed co-captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere to skate away in free agency, a disaster that largely perpetuated the dismal state of affairs the franchise finds itself in today.

Regier regularly overvalued his own players. He chose to resign Tim Connolly (twice). He and Lindy Ruff stood by pedestrian players like Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad who continued to log valuable minutes because they were veterans, time that could have been used to groom younger players to take on bigger roles. 

And finally, when the wheels really came off, Regier fired Ruff and elevated an inexperienced AHL coach in Ron Rolston — not to mention half the players he was originally tasked with developing — to the NHL with no plan for how to make it work.

The Sabres as a franchise said they were committed to rebuilding but that wasn't what was happening these last two seasons. They were floundering. 

Rolston was plainly in over his head. He wasn't getting quality effort, much less acceptable results. He was alienating and embarrassing veterans by benching them. He wasn't inspiring the young players who picked up those minutes to perform any better. The results were obvious to everyone. In the end, it was Regier's coaching hire and Rolston's obvious coaching failures that finally earned Darcy the axe. 

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