Note: This story was written by Sabres 101's Richard Wade.
The Buffalo Sabres are in the midst of their worst season in team history. Currently sporting a 2-10-1 record through 13 games, the team is in the basement of the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. How can a team that once had promise fall on such hard times?
The blame should fall on Darcy Regier. In his 17 years as Sabres general manager, he has selected 149 players. Take a guess how many of those players earned an All-Star selection? Three of them have six selections in 17 years (Brian Campbell 2007-09 and 2012, Ryan Miller 2007, Thomas Vanek 2009).
If it was any other team in the National Hockey League, then he would have been fired years ago. It baffles fans around Buffalo and across the country. Take Tyler Myers. The Sabres selected him 12th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The 6’8” defenseman was a highly sought after pick, with many draft pundits thinking the Sabres got a steal in the first round. Myers played immediately, and he played at a high level, earning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year for the 2009-2010 season. After enjoying another solid season in 2010-2011, Myers has regressed significantly. He has only two points through 13 games played this season. He has scored only 33 points in his past 106 games played. A few players chosen after Myers in 2008 include Erik Karlsson, Michael Del Zotto, and Jordan Eberle.
While missing on certain picks will set your team back, being unlucky hurts just as much. Buffalo knows all too well about their sports teams and a lack of luck. Coming out of the lockout in 2004-2005, the Buffalo Sabres were in the draft lottery. The consensus top prospect was center Sidney Crosby. The Sabres lost the draft lottery and ended up selecting center Marek Zagrapan 13th overall. Zagrapan never played an NHL game. The list of players chosen after Zagrapan is a virtual All-Star team:
- TJ Oshie, center, 24th overall
- James Neal, left wing, 33rd overall
- Paul Stastny, center, 44th overall
- Kris Letang, defenseman, 62nd overall
- Jonathan Quick, goaltender, 72nd overall
- Keith Yandle, defenseman, 105th overall
Regier is widely viewed as a GM who waits too long to make a deal. He attempts to hold onto players for extended periods of time, losing value instead of selling high. Case in point are Vanek and Miller. Both veterans are in the final year of their current contracts. As the Sabres slowly march to the basement of the NHL, Miller and Vanek are destined to leave for a contender at season’s end. Why wait until the team regresses further? Rumors were rampant last trade deadline surrounding both star players, but Regier failed to make a trade.
The Sabres need a new GM that is forward thinking. A reputation for building a contender is a prerequisite for any general manager, but apparently the Sabres don’t feel the same way. If any of us performed this poorly at our jobs for 17 years, then we would have been fired a long time ago.
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