Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Open letter to Darcy Regier

Dear Darcy,

First of all, congratulations on your teams' win last night against a tired Edmonton team that was missing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tom Gilbert, two of their top players.

It must be especially gratifying that your team was able to hang on for a one-goal victory against one of the weaker teams in the league.

And I'm sorry that your owner has had to sit through games where the fans are either booing your team or sitting there apathetically. You can't blame them, they're either watching your team fold or waiting for them to collapse.

Although they've booed your team constantly this season, they've stopped short of littering the ice with projectiles. Luckily for the innocent bystanders within the FN Center, they've turned their anger and frustration inward as they sit there bored stiff.

I hate to break it to you, but most (if not all) Sabres fans do not like the team you've built. They really hate "the core" as a whole and they hate the type of players you are enamored with.

It's been four and a half years since the summer of 2007 when the heart and soul of the team you built moved on. Even after that debacle, the fans gave you the benefit of the doubt. After two non-playoff years, you still got the benefit of the doubt because the first one was "the core" going through growing pains and that second one was marred by injuries to star players, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller.

Even after the 2010 playoff exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins when you said that you had two of the top-20 centers in the league, fans laughed it off. They understood that the previous owners financially tied your hands and it would seem as if there really wasn't much that you could do about it.

But as the calendar year turned to 2011 last season, it was plain to see that even though the names changed, the character of the team never changed. It's basically the same team that you had in 2007.

In case you haven't noticed, Darcy, the league is different than the post-lockout "new NHL. It's a tougher league, with a little more obstruction and some mean-ass S.O.B.'s patrolling the ice. One of the top teams in the conference, and the one that's perched atop the Northeast Division--the Boston Bruins--steamrolled your goalie and laughed at your team.

It's pretty clear, as shown in your 8-11-4 record since, that the players you've assembled don't have the character to compete in a league like this, no matter what you might think. Sure, they have eight wins since then, but only one was against a team in a playoff position at the time (Nashville.)

You seem to be a very likable guy, Darcy, which is an endearing quality, but most fans don't really care that you're well liked. They look at this team, the same team they've been watching for the better part of four and a half years, and see a different team that apparently you do.

They want you to see the team through their eyes, or through the eyes of the Bostons , Philadelphias and Pittsburghs of the league. They want you to see a team that's still easy to play against despite new ownership and a cash influx. They want you to see a team that is average despite having one of the highest payrolls in the league.

The fans of Buffalo don't like what they see and they want you to do something about it. They want a group of players that they can root for, a team that they can get emotionally attached to. Like they had the second half of last season.

From January until they lost in the first round to Philadelphia, Sabres' fans had a team they could get behind. It was a team that busted their asses just to make it to the playoffs and even though they were definitive underdogs against the Flyers, they acquitted themselves well. Fans were all-in.

The off-season of excitement has turned into the season of apathy.

You and "the core" failed once again. The Sabres team that you built for the "new NHL," clung to since 2007 and "bolstered" during the summer of 2011 continues to flounder in the exact same way they've been floundering for the better part of four and a half seasons. Nothing has changed, not even your approach to addressing change. It's still excuses and patience. The same approach you've always had.

A change will probably come via trade. And even though your trade might make a bigger splash than your typical player for a 2nd-round pick stand-by, I would bet the farm that the player you bring in will have the same attributes and same faults as the core players that you've always been enamored with. The same types of players you've been clinging to for the last five years. The same type of players that have turned this town into a pit of apathy.

I gotta tell you, Darcy, you're a downer. You took the excitement and financial commitment of your new owner and turned it into boredom and apathy.

Nobody cares that you passed Pegula's "due diligence" test. Nobody cares that there are injuries throughout the line-up. Nobody cares that you somehow promoted yourself as a master talent evaluator in the eyes of the new regime.

Fact is, it's not working and you cannot be trusted to fix it.

Thanks for everything you've done, but don't let the door hit you on your way out.

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