The Culture of Complacency: Why The Buffalo Sabres Are Going Nowhere Fast
A revelation over my frustration
Sports are competitive. Nothing new there. Careers, of both players and management, can turn on singular events. The bad decision, the ill advised pass, the missed free throw, the strikeout with the game on the line, these all have changed to course of men's lives. That is the way it is, especially in the big money arena of professional sports. Results matter. What have you done for me lately?
Except in Buffalo.
Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier have been the coach and general manager, respectively, of the Buffalo Sabres since the beginning of the 1997-98 season. Fourteen seasons have passed (one lost to the lockout). How does the scorecard read? One glorious run to the finals. Three exciting runs to the conference finals, including two back to back. One berth in the second round. Oh, and three first round losses and six, count 'em six, times finishing out of the playoffs.
Ken Hitchcock's Dallas Stars beat Buffalo in the finals in 1999. And he has been fired 3 times since then. Peter Laviolette, who coached Carolina past Buffalo in 2006 and won the Stanley Cup was fired 2 years later. Good coaches get fired every year. Proven general managers get fired when their teams do not perform up to expectations.
Except in Buffalo.
To put it in context, the Sabres' ownership has changed four times since they came on board, but they are still here. Are they really viewed by current owner, Terry Pegula, as a dynamic duo that will bring the Cup to Buffalo?
Darcy Regier has a history of falling in love with his players, failing to make move at critical times when seasons have been in the balance and being difficult for other GM's to work with.
Lindy Ruff has a reputation of being hard on certain players, calling them out in the media and of failing to have his players ready for an inordinate number of games.
They fail to reach the playoffs 43 percent of the time but have seemingly a lifetime contract. Well, what about this years lockout shortened season. Here are some of the highlights, or lowlights as the case may be
1) Your franchise defenseman, Tyler Myers, who has been average to below average since his rookie year has been benched twice. And this after he signed an extension to his rookie contract in excess of 35 million dollars in September 2011
2) Drew Stafford was rewarded with a 4 million per year contract in 2011 after a 30 goal season. This despite never have any season over 20 goals before '10-'11. Once paid, he promptly went back to the streaky 20 goal scorer he has always been. And he has all of one goal so far this year
3) The team boasts 9 NHL caliber defenseman, or so they say. Yet they are one of the worst defensive teams in the league this year. And Lindy Ruff is supposed to be a well respected defensive coach
4) How about we let our first round pick, who is lighting it up in the Quebec league, stay up with the big club. Not a bad idea, as Mikail Grigorenko is a major league talent. To best use his talent, we will let him be the third line center, and only give him nine to eleven minutes of ice time a game. I know they need to get Nathan Gerbe and his two points his ice time, but are they serious?
5) Speaking of Gerbe, why is he still here? A pure goal scorer in college who cannot score in the NHL due to his size. Some small guys find the holes and some don't. Gerbe does not. He even gets power play time.
6) Jochen Hecht. Every Sabre fan knows the debacle of the summer of 2007 when they let both Chris Drury and Danny Briere walk as free agents. In the six years since, they have been establish so little depth at center, that they needed to bring back a 35 year old, concussion prone center to fill out the roster.
Darcy cant or wont make moves to better his team. Lindy cant get consistent effort out of the parts he has. Yesterdays game vs Pittsburgh is a microcosm of what has ailed the Sabres since they last won a playoff series in 2007. They open the game unprepared to play, at home no less and get in an early hole. The fight back to tie the game. Even though Ryan Miller has to stand on this head, they are able to get the lead. They subsequently give up the tying goal shortly thereafter. They miss on several glorious chances before some astoundingly poor defensive play gives up the winning goal with just over two minutes to play.
Darcy, make a statement deal. Tyler Myers still has the "potential" tag with a lot of teams and has some worth. He is not the Norris Trophy candidate some think he will be but he has value. Trade him now while he bring back something in return. Break the logjam a defense and get another scoring forward to compliment Thomas Vanek.
At this point, fans in Buffalo just want him to do something, even if it is the wrong thing. The meter is running, guys