Friday, July 6, 2012

Darcy Regier seems to have found his niche

Brad Boyes...should be seen as the last move Sabres GM Darcy Regier made on his own.

At the time, Boyes to Buffalo for a second round draft pick was touted as a departure from the old Tom Golisano regime. Boyes still had another year left on his $4m contract which wasn't the way the team had done business previously. So, the Buffalo media was all on board with the financial commitment of the move (despite jettisoning the remainder of Craig Rivet's contract) and the length of the remaining contract. But, this move smacked of same ol', same ol'.

Boyes failed miserably in Buffalo.

At 6'0" 205 lbs., he had the size. He had the skill, having been a former 40-goal scorer (2007-08.) And he had the slapshot that was supposed to help an anemic powerplay.

Kinda sounds like a familiar player, especially when you throw in that Boyes was pretty good in the shootout.

Here are some numbers 6'1" 220 lbs. Right winger. 25 goal season in 2005-06. Wicked slapshot, especially useful on the powerplay. Shootout specialist.

Ales Kotalik.

Kotalik was vilified for never using his size and playing a perimeter game. Boyes ended up being the exact same player. Kotalik's production sank as the NHL got tougher. The New York Rangers, never shy about throwing money around, thought he was useful, signed for three years at a total of $9M.

It took a little while, but they unloaded him to Calgary, who thought he'd be useful. They figured out that he wasn't, demoted him and insisted that Buffalo take on his salary in the Robyn Regehr trade. In 97 games for the Rangers and Flames he scored 15 goals.

Both players are the same type of player that Regiers's vaunted "core" consisted of--skilled but soft and afraid to get their noses dirty. And both had their best seasons when the going was relatively easy--the few years post-lockout. Now both are officially off the books.

Boyes had some parting shots at Head Coach Lindy Ruff, coming off as someone who wanted to be coddled, "Coming from coaches and having success with coaches that were yellers and screamers and hard on you, that's fine, as long as you get a pat on the back when you do something well.

That starts by communicating with off-ice stuff, saying hi, asking how the family is. Those things go a long way. I'm just looking for a coach that will do that to begin with."


Somebody give him a hug.

(Quick note. I worked with a 60 yr. old woman who said the same thing when a new manager with the same Ruff-like management skills came on board.)

Boyes was a Regier-kinda player, the type that he added to the team when he dismantled "the hardest working team in hockey."

Regier never knew toughness and/or grit. He drafted Andrew Peters with a high second round pick, then opted for him over Eric Boulton as the team's tough guy. Boulton could, and still does skate a regular fourth line shift and knows how to fight. Peters is now on WGR.

He was the antithesis of Peters who only played a few minutes a game and turtled way too often when dropping the gloves.

Regier also opted to re-sign Kotalik over a heart-and-soul guy, J.P. Dumont.

On the blueline, his defense-corps was loaded with "puck-movers," while his big, tough d-men were the likes of Mike Card and Michael Funk.

What it comes down to is this, if left up to him, he would build the type of team we've seen post-lockout. A team that has talent, but lack heart. It worked well when he had leadership and loads of talent in an easier NHL, but since the summer of 2007, the fertile ground with which his dreams came to fruition has been trample under foot by a menacingly tougher brand of hockey.

Owner Terry Pegula came in and let Regier, and Ruff as well, do their thing with what they had. And one would assume that last season he had seen enough.

Last year's disaster from Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller to not making the playoffs called for some action. And I believe that Pegula, through his advisors, directed Regier to retool the team with an emphasis on grit and toughness. Hence signing a true heavyweight in John Scott and the trade of "core-incarnate" center Derek Roy for LW Steve Ott and D Adam Pardy, either top-half players, while both adding to positions that are more than full.

There's no doubt that Darcy Regier can pull things off.

If we go back to the trade deadline he said he wanted to add for the stretch run and build for the future without mortgaging the future. Voila, C Cody Hodgson comes in along with D Alexander Sulzer and out goes Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Hodgson's slated for top-six work this season and Sulzer was re-signed as a depth defenseman. In Vancouver, Kassian's role has diminished to that of fourth-line duty/depth forward while Gragnani is an unrestricted free agent after the 'Nucks opted not to offer him a contract as a restricted free agent.

Put it all together and Darcy Regier knows how to get things done.

Just don't let him shape the team in his likeness and image. Buffalo's tired of being a punching-bag joke.

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