Heads need to roll to get Sabres back on track!
Now that the Sabres season is officially over and they are once again headed to the golf course to "perfect their swing," the Sabres need to gut their entire front office, starting with Larry Quinn and then getting someone like Rick Dudley in as the new GM. The only unfortunate thing is that something like this only happens on every other team that fails to measure up, not the Sabres. Tom Golisano is very happy with the 3-headed Monster that is destroying any credibility the team has on the ice. Quinn, Darcy Regier, and Lindy Ruff have been together way too long. There is so much of a comfort level between the three that it translates onto the ice. The players reflect this coziness and have become a soft team.
That "Mr. Softie" moniker that has been given to Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is a better description of the team as a whole than Miller. At least Miller had a better season than last and earned his contract. The rest of the players in the locker room cannot say the same, except maybe for Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy. Outside of those 3, the players had a major meltdown on the ice this season.
Where should we start? Maybe Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht are a good place to start pointing fingers. Both disappeared until the last two games of the season. Pominville had some meaningless, mop-up goals the last few games, but when the team really needed him to produce, he was nowhere in sight. Same with Hecht who was a complete waste of a roster spot this season.
There should be many heads that roll this offseason. Start with the front office and clean house on the ice also. Outside of the three good players mentioned above (Miller, Vanek and Roy), no one should be untouchable. A competent GM would have addressed the softness of the team two years ago instead of letting it slide so long. No, Darcy is the poster child of this team. He is conservative, patient to a fault, kind of like his look-alike in Niles Crane on that old TV show Fraser. He is not one to make moves when needed, but to examine, re-examine, delay and finally make a token move at the trading deadline. He can play hardball during contract negotiations, however, and that has cost him the services of three of the few good players the team had: Drury, Briere and Campbell. Regier never addressed those huge holes created by the departure of the Big 3, and now the team is suffering.
Quinn was rewarded for helping owner Tom Golisano during his bid to buy the Sabres. Quinn may have been a good person to turn to then, but he has made a mess of this franchise. Just like when he was with the team as President during his first term when he was the instigator who stirred the pot in the John Muckler-Ted Nolan-Dominik Hasek debacle, Quinn has been a cancer in this franchise. Golisano shocked everyone last summer when he gave Quinn part ownership of the team. That secured his place permanently with this team and he is going nowhere, unfortunately.
With Quinn to be a permanent fixture with the Sabres for the long term, that should cement Regier in place also and he may be here as long as Quinn. That leaves Lindy Ruff, the Sabres head coach. Both Quinn and Regier have been happy with Ruff and he’s a part of the "Good Ol’ Boys" country club. However, with the fans ready to jump on the Bills bandwagon with Terrell Owens getting excitement back on that front, someone will have to be the fall guy. The Sabres failure to make the playoffs for two consecutive years and 5 out of the last 7 is a hard pill for the fans to swallow. Ruff and Regier have a very cozy relationship. If it could go on forever, it would. However, ticket sales may decline in this weak economy and management has to do something to show that it won’t be the same old story next season. Ruff could be the scape goat.
Quinn said that he plans to do a thorough examination of the team and make decisions to change the team's downward direction these past two years after winning the Presidents Trophy in 2007. Such a severe drop in the standings is sure to finally translate to the attendance next season. It started to show this season as not every game was completely sold out. Given the very weak economy in WNY, if nothing is done during the offseason to win back the fans, there will be even more empty seats next season.
This is a bottom line organization. If the bottom line, fans in the stands are not there, then the team will definitely have to address the situation next season when the team fails for the 3rd straight year of making the playoffs. From having over 10,000 fans partying outside the arena during the playoffs to a dark arena now is not good on any front, let alone with the Sabres who are pinching every penny just to turn a profit.
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