Friday, February 22, 2013

Who is in charge of the Buffalo Sabres hockey operations?

Terry Pegula is the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. He has a lot of money. He bought the team as a fan and it was a welcome change for the team and the fans of Buffalo as he released the financial chains.

He wants to win. He wants to win as an owner and as a fan. And he's put his money where his mouth was.

That part is in place.

One of the golden rules of managing a business is hiring people who are smarter than yourself, which was pretty easy for Pegula. He walked into the F'N Center with no knowledge about running a sports team. That being said, he did hire some quality individuals who worked for quality organizations.

He laid out his team:

Team President, Ted Black--Black is a PR/media guy, and he's damn good at it. He was vice president of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1999-2008 and helped Mario Lemieux rebuild the franchise. After that he was senior vice president and general manager of FSN Pittsburgh. Ted is not in charge of the hockey operations, and he'll let everyone know that during his weekly show on WGR when fans inundate him with personnel questions. Black is also alternate governor for the team.

Chief Development Officer, Cliff Benson--Benson is a CPA and attorney. He was at Pegula's side when the latter donated $88M to start up Penn State's Div-1 hockey program. He was there when Pegula bought the Sabres. Benson's main job is overseeing development outside of hockey operations as well as charitable works. He's a community relations kinda guy.

Senior Advisor, Ken Sawyer--Sawyer is the guy who advises Pegula on organizational decisions concerning the hockey operations. He worked for the NHL as a CFO for 14 years. He was with the Penguins with Lemieux in 1999 as one of his senior executives for 11 years. He's the guy who can get the big things done especially when dealing with the league.

Senior Vice President/Director of Hockey Operations--____________________

General Manager--Darcy Regier

There's the hole that Pegula really needs to invest in, with both a quality hire and a good amount of money to lure someone to Buffalo.

Apparently Regier has been in charge of that.

Yikes. Not a very good track record, especially in giving the team an identity. Make no mistake, if he's told to get something done, he'll be able to do it, as evidenced by the last two years of transactions.

But to ask him to define this team? It will be in his image and likeness. And he's a guy who could not compete in the NHL. He's had an affinity for soft-but-skilled players and puck-moving defensemen and knows nothing about grit and toughness.

He has not been able to identify and aquire hockey players. Real hockey players. Thick-skinned professionals who will not be denied at any point in the period, game or season. Guys who don't "want to win" (because all players want to win,) but guys who hate to lose.

How many of those players have been with the franchise post Chris Drury/Daniel Briere? Not many. As of right now the best of those is Ryan Miller. Steve Ott is like that. Patrick Kaleta, Nathan Gerbe even Thomas Vanek and Robyn Regehr, in a subtle way, all hate to lose.

Regier's core from the past six seasons and his acquisitions?

Not so much.

So, Terry, as the Lindy Ruff era officially came to a close, perhaps a look at your organization would be a place, THE place, to start your drive to the Stanley Cup.

The task of Sawyer and yourself is to hire the best hockey mind in the hockey operations business. One with a proven background of winning the Stanely Cup.

None of us outside the NHL circle know who's available, but a very good candidate may be Larry Robinson.

Robinson has had success everywhere he's gone. He started his career in one of the greatest organization in the NHL--the Montreal Canadians--who had one of the greatest coaches of all time in Scotty Bowman and was a major part of one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history--"The Flying Frenchmen" of the '70's. He won six Stanley Cups as a player.

His coaching resume' has him winning three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils as both an assistant and as head coach.

Presently he's an assistant with the San Jose' Sharks. One of the reasons he went to the west coast, apparently, was to be close to his grandkids.


It's been said that he was willing to take an assistant coach with the Canadians, but there was no opening, so the east coast is not out of the question.

Regardless of whether or not the team would want him or whether or not he'd come to Buffalo, Terry Pegula needs to fill that gaping hole in his organization.

Especially if their de facto Ops-guy, Darcy Regier, is no longer with the team come season's end.

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