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Sabres Central

Sabres losing streak is now 5

The Sabres ship continues to sink

By Rick Anderson
December 23, 2007

The Great Reversal continues. The Sabres continue their "from first to last" story as they lost their 5th straight game against the Ottawa Senators Friday night.

Ryan Miller got pulled the first time ever at HSBC Arena in the Sabres 5-3 loss to the Senators. He was none too happy with the move and wish he had the chance to prove himself the rest of the game.

"I would have liked to play it out," admitted Miller after the game. "Itís useless to say what would have happened if I had been in there still."

BUFF-OTT-34.jpg picture by BUFFALOSPORTS

Ray Emerson makes a save while Daniel Alfredsson falls to the ice and Danny Heatley stands by for any rebound. [Sabres Central photo]

The Sabres fell behind 3-0 mid way through the second period and Lindy Ruff wanted to shake up his team. By pulling Miller, he did just that and the Sabres immediately scored their first goal of the game. In the third period, Buffalo came back with 2 quick goals to tie it up, but then it was Daniel Alfredsson and Danny Heatley who quickly settled the score and the game with 2 tallies late in the period.

The Sabres, who also lost the Winter Classic game on New Years Day to the Pittsburgh Penguins, have got to get their act together soon or there will be too much ground to make up to get into postseason play.

It's desperate times right now," Brian Campbell said after the game. "The whole rest of the season is going to be desperate trying to get points.

HEATLEY-LYDMAN.jpg picture by BUFFALOSPORTS

Toni Lydman checks Danny Heatley during first period action [Sabres Central photo]

Ice Bowl is a smashing success

For the NHL, the Winter Classic was an absolute success. It got everything it wanted, snow and Sidney Crosby scoring the winning goal. Crosby scored the Penguins second shootout goal as the Pens iced the Sabres 2-1. It was the 4th straight loss for the Sabres, who have scored only 2 goals in their last 3 games.

To have the game go to a shootout with the snow swirling around Ralph Wilson Stadium, it was picture perfect for the NHL. Even the headlines on NHL.com said it was a "perfect game."

In all, the NHL came out the winner. It had the flag-barrier, Sidney Crosby, winning the game in a shootout. The snow added to the romance and traditional aspects of the game. The crowd broke and NHL record. What more could it ask except for maybe a few more goals?

The huge buildup for the Ice Bowl and the hoopla before during and after the game are all but a memory now. However, it was a dramatic finish as the NHL got its wish with Sidney Crosby scoring winner in a shootout and there were plenty of snowflakes for the TV audience across the world to see. Outside of the Sabres and their fans, who had the majority of the 71,000 who were on hand, it was a glorious day for hockey.

The Sabres, however, feel that they could have generated at least one more goal during regulation to prevent the overtime and shootout. Their offense has not been generating much these day, just two goals in the last 3 games.

They may feel like pawns to the NHL and Sidney Crosby, being a part of history but not tasting the wine of victory.

Why is Darcy Regier still the Sabres GM?

We've seen this story before. It's like a repeat show on TV that keeps on repeating over and over again. And the viewing pubic is getting sick of it. They want some new material.

Darcy Regier is up to his old tricks again, or should we say he's sleeping on the job as he has done for the last ten years. We have seen it in the Michael Peca contract negotiations, the loss of high quality players through his tenure. Recently, Regier was responsible for the loss of Jay McKee, Mike Grier, J.P. Dumont, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. The teamís play has dwindled because of the loss of those players has been devastating.

Last season, Regier refused to get Briere and Druryís contracts settled early. He stuck with the so-called strict team policy of not negotiating during the season for fear of "upsetting team chemistry." Meanwhile, every other team in the NHL is locking down their top players (along with the intermediate ones) to secure their future. It is a good business policy of getting contracts done early and long term before the playerís worth escalates or they get closer to free agency.

Now that itís January, the Sabres are about to repeat the terrible mistakes they made last year in allowing Briere, Drury and even Darius Zubrus shuffle out of Buffalo. Highly talented Brian Campbell is getting closer to free agency as Regier dickers and hee haws about his bottom line. The Senators have locked down Danny Heatley and Jason Spetzza to long term contracts. The Ottawa management doesnít blink when thinking about the high cost to get these deals done. They know that if they let the negotiations slide to near the end, it will cost them much more to sign them, or worse, they will lose them without any compensation.

Campbell is one of those rare defensemen who has a very talented offensive side. Heís great at bringing the puck out of his own zone, has speed and creativity to bring the puck deep into the opponents zone. Campbell also is good on the point during powerplays and is improving every year with his defensive side. He will command a big buck, and the longer the Sabres wait to sign him, the more it will cost. If he travels the route of Drury and Briere to free agency, there will be a lot of angry Sabres fans who will not renew their season tickets next year. The team is already way down in the standings and may miss the playoffs after being the top team in the NHL last year during the regular season. This will only make the fans more disgusted with the management team of Regier and managing partner Larry Quinn.

The question remains, why is Regier still the GM of the Buffalo Sabres???

Quinn equally to blame

Over the years, tons of insults and criticism have been hurled towards Darcy Regier from these cheap seats. Most of it stuck and was well deserved. However, lately included in the blame is Sabres managing partner, Larry Quinn, who should get equal blame. Quinn was the clown who helped spark the hate triangle between John Muckler-Ted Nolan and Dominik Hasek. He was credited for throwing gasoline on the flames and was fired from his position as president of the team by former owner John Rigas.

When Rigas was arrested and his ownership was taken away, Quinn magically reappeared like the lingering effects of the flu when Tom Golisano made his pitch to purchase the Sabres. Quinn was the front man, helping Golisano through the league red tape. Golisano awarded Quinn for his efforts when the team became his by granting him the managing partner duties.

Sabres fans bemoaned the fact that the Mighty Quinn had returned and braced themselves for the worst. They were right. The worst is here now in the fact that Quinns fingerprints are all over the mismanagement of contract negotiations last year with Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Quinn is also most likely a key element to the "we do not negotiate contracts during the season" policy that has cost the Sabres a ton of quality players like Jay McKee, Mike Griere and J.P. Dumont as they didn't lock them up early and let them enter the free agent market.

Golisano has mostly been given the benefit of the doubt by Sabres fans and the media for not having much to do with the contract negotiations. But is that fair to exclude him completely when he's the one who signs the paychecks?

Now, word out in the hockey vineyards is that Golisano may be setting up a lot of the roadblocks that prevent the Sabres from locking up players like Brian Campbell and Ryan Miller to long-term deals when all the other NHL teams are doing just that with their own stars. 

If the Sabres don't suddenly change their out-dated policy and get these deals done, they will lose both Campbell and Miller, quickly becoming the laughing stock of the league. Sabres fans will then vote their disgust with the Sabres management by staying away from the Arena in droves. It will look like 2003 when the team had problems filling half the arena, and Golisano, Regier and Quinn will have themselves to blame.

 

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