$2 – 2.5 million dollars.
That’s the dollar amount behind what is emerging as one of the more controversial news items to come out of the sale of the Sabres to Terrence Pegula. It was the amount of money allotted to Darcy Regier last fall, to retain his services for two more years.
Because of the sale, however, the extension has become a public conspiracy. Bucky Gleason, of the Buffalo News, had this to say about the deal:
See, a man in good conscience would resign rather than accept the golden parachute bestowed upon him for being a better soldier than he was a general manager. A sincere man would adhere to his own creed and put the team and its future before himself, which is what he preached while running this outfit.
One of the best things about Gleason’s columns is that, a lot of the time, they can be so severely flawed, that a singular quick paragraph like this one tells subscribers that there is no need to read on.
Sure, the extension was not made public, which at best seems suspect. But business is business, and speculating what is going on behind the magic curtain at HSBC – the arena or the bank – is a waste of time.
Fans should not fret about having Regier around, though many will point at the date of July 1st, 2007 – that darkest of days when Chris Drury and Danny Briere left town. It was presumed that Regier failed to negotiate with the pair properly, but that was not the case. In truth, Regier successfully negotiated a contract with Drury in the winter of that season. The offer sheet never reached Drury’s agent. It’s not fair to speculate on who killed the deal, but Tom Golisano would have had the final say.
No one on the hockey planet can say that the Rangers paying Drury over $8 million per season is a good idea, either. In fact, it’s a horrible, destructive idea. Contract woes aside, Drury remains an essential topic when discussing Regier’s merits. He is part of one of many astounding trades that Darcy was able to pull off. A quick list:
Derek Roy. The Sabres’ second-round pick (32nd Overall) in 2001, it’s been long forgotten that the pick was acquired by Regier in a deal that sent Cory Sarich, Wayne Primeau, Brian Holzinger, and a 2000 3rd-round draft pick which was then traded to Tampa Bay for Chris Gratton, and the pick that the Sabres would use to select Roy. It’s hard to wrap your brain around that, but that’s the business of a GM.
Gilmour and Dumont. Regier sent Michal Grosek to the Chicago Blackhawks for Doug Gilmour and J.P. Dumont. No need to elaborate further.
Chris Drury. There’s that name again. Darcy made a deal for Drury that was almost criminal. He dealt Rhett Warrener and Steve Reinprecht for Chris Drury (and Steve Begin). Captain Clutch quickly became the cornerstone for one of the most dominant Sabres rosters to ever take the ice.
Danny Briere. Even more criminal: Regier sent Chris Gratton and a fourth-round pick to Phoenix for Daniel Briere and a third-round pick. It’s a wonder Gratton was able to be moved at all, let alone for a player that cemented the Sabres roster as “scary good.”
Jason Wolley. Wolley recorded the game winner in the 1st Game of the 1999 Stanley Cup finals between Buffalo and Dallas. Regier used only a 5th round pick to acquire him.
Stu Barnes. While many would consider the price tag high (Matt Barnaby), Stu was instrumental in the ’99 Cup run.
Ryan Miller. Regier sent Mike Wilson to Florida for Rhett Warrener and a 1999 5th round draft pick, which was then used to snap up Buffalo’s darling Vezina winner.
Paul Gaustad. Regier gave up 7th and 9th round picks in 2001 to Tampa Bay in order to secure a 7th round pick to draft the Goose – a strong leader and the Sabres’ current master of the faceoff dot.
Mike Grier. Darcy sent Jakub Klepis to Washington for Mike Grier. Who (or what) is a Klepis?
That’s not a complete list, and doesn’t even contain all of the highlights. The point is, Regier is fantastic at building teams – even under Golisano’s strangling budget.
Regier has had great success at the draft, as well. Fans need not look any further than that 2008 draft that brought in Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam, and some other growing prospects. When the NHL moved on from the post-lockout speed game experiment, returning to clutch and grab hockey featuring big bodies, Regier responded by drafting big. Zack Kassian, Brayden McNabb, and Marcus Foligno are all big, nasty specimens – and none of them are strangers to the scoreboard.
Regier knows how to employ his prospects, too. Lindy Ruff was quick to point out in post game interviews that it was Darcy’s idea to bring up Tyler Ennis for his first NHL game, wherein Ennis recorded his first goal. More recently, it was Regier’s idea to bring Paul Byron up from Portland. Byron had a goal and an assist in two games, and scored on his first shot in the NHL.
It’s important for Gleason, and for fans, to realize that a GM is not judged on one half of one hockey season alone. Rather, a GM’s body of work needs to be looked at as a whole.
Regier’s work produced a team that should have won the cup in 2006 (which ended due to a horrible plague of injuries to the entire defensive roster). The Sabres that he built in ’06-’07 were a magical, wonderful masterwork on the ice, and just fell short of a Cup final. And of course, there’s the assembly of players that he brought together for the 1999 Stanley Cup finals. No one can blame Regier for how that one ended.
The State of the Sabres today is sound. Through the draft, the roster will be turning big and nasty. Whether or not Regier remains with the club is moot – whoever is GM is going to be reaping the fruit of Regier’s labor in the draft war room.
What fans have now is one of the most respected GM’s in the sport of hockey. Love him or hate him, it’s time to bury the parachute and see what Regier will do next.
This time, with money at his side.