Thursday, January 12, 2012

Claude Loiselle, come on down...

you're the next GM of the Buffalo Sabres.

Meh, if only it were true.

Word on the street is that Loiselle has already been contacted by a couple of teams, and if the Sabres were looking to bring him in, there are a couple of hurdles to jump, number one being the fact that the Sabres still have their GM, Darcy Regier.

But, with his team looking beaten, Regier may not be able to squirm out of this one. Too much has happened this year and, to his determent, too much has stayed the same.

A few of the items:
  • Free agents aqcuisitions underperforming
  • A beat-down both physically and on the score sheet at Boston in November
  • blow-outs by four different teams thus far including a last-place Columbus team
  • embarassing the owner in Pittsburgh in December
  • sub-.500 record
  • poor play from his core
  • this quote from one of his core players, alternate captain Derek Roy, “We had high expectations at the start of the year. We knew that" he said. “Going forward now there’s low expectations. So now it’s easier to play. We just play loose, play fun. Go out there and play hard."
  • yada, yada, yada.

If the Sabres decide on a change, the next big hurdle would be the fact that Loiselle is an Assistant General Manager with the Toronto Maple Leaves. It might be tough to pry Loiselle from a long-time rival as the Sabres would need permission to talk to him. That being said, rumor is that Toronto's Original-Six rival, the Montreal Canadians, have already talked to him.

Toronto AGM, Claude Loiselle,
looks to be on the fast track
to his own GM positon.
With the Sabres organization mired in status-quo over the past four and a half years, opportunites for leadership in the front office have come and gone. Steve Yzerman headed for Tampa Bay and Dale Tallon headed to Florida, to name a couple. Granted, at the time the Sabres weren't shopping for a GM, but those two bring quality traits to an organization and have earned loads of respect within the NHL.

Claude Loiselle is one of those up-and-comers presently learning the ropes from Toronto GM Brian Burke. Burke remembers him from his playing days. “I was impressed with Claude as a player,” he said. “He was always a thinking player, but talented and belligerent. This is a guy that played hard, too. And I thought that was a guy that should get into management.”

In the same article from the National Post, Burke thinks that Loiselle has a bright future as a GM, “I would have bet a lot of money that he would have been a GM six or seven years ago,” he said. “[Loiselle] clearly has the wherewithal to be a general manager. I think I’m going to have a challenge keeping our management team together.”

Many chats are looking to former Sabre Rick Dudley (who is a consultant for Toronto) as a guy they'd like to see replace Regier mainly because Sabres fans want to see a departure from the soft-but-skilled team they've witnessed for many years. They remember Dudley as a tough customer and feel as if he'd mold a team in his likeness.

But Loiselle was no stranger to grit, toughness and belligerence. Just ask Bobby Clarke:

Since the Flyers had the tape of the game, Loiselle said that what Clarke did prior never made it in, "the Flyers neglected to show the part where Clarkie’s trying to take my eyes out, and just shows me two-handing him,” Loiselle said. “I got six games.”

Extreme? Mmmmmm...maybe. But after the passivity of the Regier regime, that type of mentality, would be welcome with open arms.

Loiselle's primary responsibility with the Leaves is contract negotiations, and he has the ferocity, intelligence and zeal that he played with when negotiating contracts, “My hockey experience goes into my negotiations,” Loiselle said “If an agent tells me, ‘Oh, this guy’s the best centreman in the league’ — well, no he’s not."

“And they don’t get that, they don’t want to get that,” Loiselle said. “But I’ll hammer it because of my hockey background, because I know that’s the way it is.”

Same with his commrades in the war room, “I go to our guys and say, ‘Here’s where we’re at — they’re looking for a three-year deal at this number, I think we should stick to two years, these are the reasons. What are your thoughts?’ ”

As indicated by Burke's comments, and the possibility that the Canadians are already talking to him, Loiselle may be the next AGM to get swooped up by a team needing one. If the Sabres remain in their holding pattern, it might be another opportunity come and gone.

Even Loiselle knows where things are headed, “I want to be a GM, I feel I’m going to be a GM,” he said. “But not at any cost, and not tomorrow.”

What's the cost in Loiselle's mind? Don't know, but if I were Terry Pegula, I'd be asking, "what's the price?"


The Rochester Americans lost 5-2 last night (1-19-12.) They were missing several d-men. But Kevin Oklobzija points out this concerning lack of retribution by the Amerks for a cheap hit last month, "it’s very much the Sabres way. Let opponents take advantage of whoever they want; it’s OK with us. So what if half the team is concussed?"


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