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One guy's opinion: Lessons learned from the Sabres rebuild


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Not that it is surprising, but I find it deeply interesting, that in a league run by a nepotisitic old boy's club that the architects of the Sabres downfall have had so few other oppoirtunities:

  • Regier = One year after being fired, he joined the Arizona Coyotes for two years. He last worked in hockey in 2016.
  • Murray = After being fired quit hockey and now tends race horses (apparently).
  • Botterill = Six months after being fired he was hired by Seattle as an AGM in 2021. He was first promoted to be an AGM in 2009.

Neither the Coyotes or the Kraken are exactly marque teams either.

  • Ruff = Head coach of the Stars for four years, then assistant head for three years with the Rangers, now head coach of the Devils. 466 games coached as a head coach post the Sabres - untainted by the downfall, and clearly (and rightly) seen as employable by other teams in the league.
  • Rolston = A year after being fired he is hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a pro scout (possible Darcy influence?). A year later (2015) he is promoted to be head coach of their AHL team. In 2017 he leaves the professional hockey world and returns to coach at college level. He was first a head coach at the amatuer level in 2004.
  • Nolan = Two years after being fired he coached the Polish national team for a year, in which they were relegated. Since 2018 he has not worked in hockey. I know there is some possible racial issues tied up in this one. But still pretty telling that in 7 years he has only had one gig for a small international team.
  • Bylsma = Over a year after being fired, he is hired as an assistant coach for the Red Wings. Three years later he is let go. Later in 2021, he becomes the assistant coach for an AHL team (the Kraken's AHL team).
  • Housley = After leaving the Sabres, he joined the Coyotes as an assistant coach. Three years later he is let go. There are no indications he will be joining another NHL team for the upcoming season.
  • Kruegar = Since being fired, Kruegar has not worked in professional hockey.

Aside from the weird connections between the Sabres former staff joining the Coyotes or Kraken enterprises. Over the 11 years of the tank, only one GM/coach (of the nine) still works in the league in any capacity (Ruff).

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9 minutes ago, Trettioåtta said:

Not that it is surprising, but I find it deeply interesting, that in a league run by a nepotisitic old boy's club that the architects of the Sabres downfall have had so few other oppoirtunities:

  • Regier = One year after being fired, he joined the Arizona Coyotes for two years. He last worked in hockey in 2016.
  • Murray = After being fired quit hockey and now tends race horses (apparently).
  • Botterill = Six months after being fired he was hired by Seattle as an AGM in 2021. He was first promoted to be an AGM in 2009.

Neither the Coyotes or the Kraken are exactly marque teams either.

  • Ruff = Head coach of the Stars for four years, then assistant head for three years with the Rangers, now head coach of the Devils. 466 games coached as a head coach post the Sabres - untainted by the downfall, and clearly (and rightly) seen as employable by other teams in the league.
  • Rolston = A year after being fired he is hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a pro scout (possible Darcy influence?). A year later (2015) he is promoted to be head coach of their AHL team. In 2017 he leaves the professional hockey world and returns to coach at college level. He was first a head coach at the amatuer level in 2004.
  • Nolan = Two years after being fired he coached the Polish national team for a year, in which they were relegated. Since 2018 he has not worked in hockey. I know there is some possible racial issues tied up in this one. But still pretty telling that in 7 years he has only had one gig for a small international team.
  • Bylsma = Over a year after being fired, he is hired as an assistant coach for the Red Wings. Three years later he is let go. Later in 2021, he becomes the assistant coach for an AHL team (the Kraken's AHL team).
  • Housley = After leaving the Sabres, he joined the Coyotes as an assistant coach. Three years later he is let go. There are no indications he will be joining another NHL team for the upcoming season.
  • Kruegar = Since being fired, Kruegar has not worked in professional hockey.

Aside from the weird connections between the Sabres former staff joining the Coyotes or Kraken enterprises. Over the 11 years of the tank, only one GM/coach (of the nine) still works in the league in any capacity (Ruff).

Great summary of the Puke-ula era.  It all starts at the top. 

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9 minutes ago, Trettioåtta said:

Not that it is surprising, but I find it deeply interesting, that in a league run by a nepotisitic old boy's club that the architects of the Sabres downfall have had so few other oppoirtunities:

  • Regier = One year after being fired, he joined the Arizona Coyotes for two years. He last worked in hockey in 2016.
  • Murray = After being fired quit hockey and now tends race horses (apparently).
  • Botterill = Six months after being fired he was hired by Seattle as an AGM in 2021. He was first promoted to be an AGM in 2009.

Neither the Coyotes or the Kraken are exactly marque teams either.

  • Ruff = Head coach of the Stars for four years, then assistant head for three years with the Rangers, now head coach of the Devils. 466 games coached as a head coach post the Sabres - untainted by the downfall, and clearly (and rightly) seen as employable by other teams in the league.
  • Rolston = A year after being fired he is hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a pro scout (possible Darcy influence?). A year later (2015) he is promoted to be head coach of their AHL team. In 2017 he leaves the professional hockey world and returns to coach at college level. He was first a head coach at the amatuer level in 2004.
  • Nolan = Two years after being fired he coached the Polish national team for a year, in which they were relegated. Since 2018 he has not worked in hockey. I know there is some possible racial issues tied up in this one. But still pretty telling that in 7 years he has only had one gig for a small international team.
  • Bylsma = Over a year after being fired, he is hired as an assistant coach for the Red Wings. Three years later he is let go. Later in 2021, he becomes the assistant coach for an AHL team (the Kraken's AHL team).
  • Housley = After leaving the Sabres, he joined the Coyotes as an assistant coach. Three years later he is let go. There are no indications he will be joining another NHL team for the upcoming season.
  • Kruegar = Since being fired, Kruegar has not worked in professional hockey.

Aside from the weird connections between the Sabres former staff joining the Coyotes or Kraken enterprises. Over the 11 years of the tank, only one GM/coach (of the nine) still works in the league in any capacity (Ruff).

Shoveling-Manure.gif

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1 hour ago, Trettioåtta said:

Not that it is surprising, but I find it deeply interesting, that in a league run by a nepotisitic old boy's club that the architects of the Sabres downfall have had so few other oppoirtunities:

  • Regier = One year after being fired, he joined the Arizona Coyotes for two years. He last worked in hockey in 2016.
  • Murray = After being fired quit hockey and now tends race horses (apparently).
  • Botterill = Six months after being fired he was hired by Seattle as an AGM in 2021. He was first promoted to be an AGM in 2009.

Neither the Coyotes or the Kraken are exactly marque teams either.

  • Ruff = Head coach of the Stars for four years, then assistant head for three years with the Rangers, now head coach of the Devils. 466 games coached as a head coach post the Sabres - untainted by the downfall, and clearly (and rightly) seen as employable by other teams in the league.
  • Rolston = A year after being fired he is hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a pro scout (possible Darcy influence?). A year later (2015) he is promoted to be head coach of their AHL team. In 2017 he leaves the professional hockey world and returns to coach at college level. He was first a head coach at the amatuer level in 2004.
  • Nolan = Two years after being fired he coached the Polish national team for a year, in which they were relegated. Since 2018 he has not worked in hockey. I know there is some possible racial issues tied up in this one. But still pretty telling that in 7 years he has only had one gig for a small international team.
  • Bylsma = Over a year after being fired, he is hired as an assistant coach for the Red Wings. Three years later he is let go. Later in 2021, he becomes the assistant coach for an AHL team (the Kraken's AHL team).
  • Housley = After leaving the Sabres, he joined the Coyotes as an assistant coach. Three years later he is let go. There are no indications he will be joining another NHL team for the upcoming season.
  • Kruegar = Since being fired, Kruegar has not worked in professional hockey.

Aside from the weird connections between the Sabres former staff joining the Coyotes or Kraken enterprises. Over the 11 years of the tank, only one GM/coach (of the nine) still works in the league in any capacity (Ruff).

He replaced veterans like Ruff and Regier with a revolving door of newbies, some with very limited qualifications.  
 

Look at all the rookie GMs and coaches, no wonder the rebuild failed.  
 

Let’s not forget the bloated, confusing, and inept organization Pegula built with Black, LaFontaine, Batista and all the other strap hangers he surrounded himself with.  

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1 hour ago, LabattBlue said:

Great summary of the Puke-ula era.  It all starts at the top. 

I'm never going to piss on the Pegula's. They make changes when they know it ain't working. As for Reiger and Ruff there were lots of fans that wanted change then.

The Pegulas don't sit by and do nothing, they may have made choices that didn't work out but at least they admitted it wasn't working and  changed it ..... multiple times

Yeah the beginning years sucked but at least they work at trying to get it right.. We'll see how it goes the next year but if we improve again some this year and we look to be on the right track then give the guy some credit for making changes instead of sitting on it and hope it eventually works....  
 

Edited by ddaryl
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57 minutes ago, ddaryl said:

I'm never going to piss on the Pegula's. They make changes when they know it ain't working. As for Reiger and Ruff there were lots of fans that wanted change then.

The Pegulas don't sit by and do nothing, they may have made choices that didn't work out but at least they admitted it wasn't working and  changed it ..... multiple times

Yeah the beginning years sucked but at least they work at trying to get it right.. We'll see how it goes the next year but if we improve again some this year and we look to be on the right track then give the guy some credit for making changes instead of sitting on it and hope it eventually works....  
 

Sorry, but it was a decade plus of sucking, and a team last year that still didn’t sniff the playoffs.  Wake me up when the nightmare actually ends, and maybe then my belief that the Pegula’s are among the worst owners in the NHL may begin to subside…the wounds are deep.  

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12 hours ago, Marvin, Sabres Fan said:

Great article.  I strongly recommend it as a post-mortem of the past decade and change.

It would have been a great article had it been written a year ago.  A lot has changed.

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So to sum the article, it basically says don't tank and draft better. Since it's from a pro Detroit perspective it really just says don't make the mistakes the Sabres made. I think KA/The Sabres know they shouldn't make the mistakes the Sabres made as well. It just took them 10 years to realize it. 

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15 hours ago, LabattBlue said:

Sorry, but it was a decade plus of sucking, and a team last year that still didn’t sniff the playoffs.  Wake me up when the nightmare actually ends, and maybe then my belief that the Pegula’s are among the worst owners in the NHL may begin to subside…the wounds are deep.  

Feel your pain. Agree pretty much with most of what you say here. I do think even without sniffing the playoffs last season I saw signs we may finally be heading in the right direction. The Pegulas may have stumbled onto a good management team. I'm at least hopeful.

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18 hours ago, DarthEbriate said:

It's difficult to get your name clear of the mess when you helped architect a perennial playoff contender into a perennial laughingstock and punchline.

A what? Are we taking about the Sabres? When was this "perennial playoff" era? When the NHL had 20 teams and 16 made the playoffs?

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7 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

A what? Are we taking about the Sabres? When was this "perennial playoff" era? When the NHL had 20 teams and 16 made the playoffs?

Just a guess but… He may be referring to the fact that the Sabres have made the playoffs more than they haven’t made the playoffs in their history as a franchise.

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/BUF/history.html

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10 minutes ago, Zamboni said:

Just a guess but… He may be referring to the fact that the Sabres have made the playoffs more than they haven’t made the playoffs in their history as a franchise.

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/BUF/history.html

If I remember correctly they were top 5 in win percentage historically prior to the Pegulas taking over.

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24 minutes ago, Weave said:

If I remember correctly they were top 5 in win percentage historically prior to the Pegulas taking over.

Correct.  At one point, we had a winning record against every team except Philadelphia and Edmonton.

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51 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

A what? Are we taking about the Sabres? When was this "perennial playoff" era? When the NHL had 20 teams and 16 made the playoffs?

I've only been aware of hockey and the Sabres since '93-'94 so I've always known the Eastern Conference with [edit: at least 13 teams -- had to go back and check some realignments]. The Sabres were always in the playoffs until they traded Hasek and Peca and underwent owner fraud-league control turmoil... and that blip was only 3 seasons. Then, they came out of the lockout and missed the playoffs twice more with 90-point seasons in those heroic runs to 9th. They were always playoff contenders until the decision was made that the only way to win was to get top-3 picks like the Penguins had.

Edited by DarthEbriate
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43 minutes ago, DarthEbriate said:

I've only been aware of hockey and the Sabres since '93-'94 so I've always known the Eastern Conference with [edit: at least 13 teams -- had to go back and check some realignments]. The Sabres were always in the playoffs until they traded Hasek and Peca and underwent owner fraud-league control turmoil... and that blip was only 3 seasons. Then, they came out of the lockout and missed the playoffs twice more with 90-point seasons in those heroic runs to 9th. They were always playoff contenders until the decision was made that the only way to win was to get top-3 picks like the Penguins had.

Correct. Ottawa and Tampa added in 1992.  Florida and Anaheim added in 1993.  8 out of 13 teams making the playoffs is/was easier than it is now, but not even close to when it was 16 out of 21 teams.

The first 2 years of that new format Florida missed the playoffs both years being just a game or 2 under .500. The 3rd year New Jersey was the last team out with a winning record.  When you consider OT losses get points now but back then they were just losses, the first team missing the playoffs is, on average, only 1 or 2 games better over an entire season that it was back then.  SO..with that in mind...

-From 1992 on, they made the playoffs 9 times over the next 10 seasons.

-When you even consider when the team was in bankruptcy and the roster was gutted following that, they STILL made the playoffs up until Pegulas took over...in the 19 years since that early 90s expansion 13 out of 19 seasons.

-Since the first Full year the Pegulas took over until now...they are 0 out of 11.  They made the playoffs ONE time right after they bought the team before the made any meaningful changes.

Now I think the franchise is getting run better.  But it seem pretty obvious to me the decisions made by ownership had a huge impact on one of the worst 11 years runs in the history of the NHL, and possibly all of professional major north american sports.

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25 minutes ago, Taro T said:

Yep.  And for most of their history, they were actually top 3.

I used to take a lot of pride in that when I got my new NHL Record and Guide Book every season. No Cups but a darned good team every year. Kind of like the Leafs have been in the last 5 years. (Comparison hurts but it’s pretty close).

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6 hours ago, Weave said:

If I remember correctly they were top 5 in win percentage historically prior to the Pegulas taking over.

We're the Sabres cup contenders when Terry bought the team? I guess the new owner didn't get it right the first 4-5 tries. Hopefully he got it right this time.

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9 hours ago, Radar said:

Feel your pain. Agree pretty much with most of what you say here. I do think even without sniffing the playoffs last season I saw signs we may finally be heading in the right direction. The Pegulas may have stumbled onto a good management team. I'm at least hopeful.

Seriously? Choosing KA as the GM was not stumbling. They had their eyes on him for some time and saw something in him that they obviously liked. As far as Granato goes somebody saw that he had a certain something that they wanted. Did they stumble into Beane and McDermott or did they make a good decision? Sometimes good people struggle in tough circumstances but given time will come through. The Pegulas have built an absolute powerhouse in the NFL and obviously know something about how to either do it or find the people who can. After struggling in the NHL for several years it appears that they are now on track. I'm thinking that what with all the "f" ups as owners in pro sports we're lucky to have them as long term owners here in Buffalo. 

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5 hours ago, mjd1001 said:

Correct. Ottawa and Tampa added in 1992.  Florida and Anaheim added in 1993.  8 out of 13 teams making the playoffs is/was easier than it is now, but not even close to when it was 16 out of 21 teams.

The first 2 years of that new format Florida missed the playoffs both years being just a game or 2 under .500. The 3rd year New Jersey was the last team out with a winning record.  When you consider OT losses get points now but back then they were just losses, the first team missing the playoffs is, on average, only 1 or 2 games better over an entire season that it was back then.  SO..with that in mind...

-From 1992 on, they made the playoffs 9 times over the next 10 seasons.

-When you even consider when the team was in bankruptcy and the roster was gutted following that, they STILL made the playoffs up until Pegulas took over...in the 19 years since that early 90s expansion 13 out of 19 seasons.

-Since the first Full year the Pegulas took over until now...they are 0 out of 11.  They made the playoffs ONE time right after they bought the team before the made any meaningful changes.

Now I think the franchise is getting run better.  But it seem pretty obvious to me the decisions made by ownership had a huge impact on one of the worst 11 years runs in the history of the NHL, and possibly all of professional major north american sports.

Let's review those decisions, shall we?

Hired Lafontaine who hired Tim Murray. 

He fired Lindy, then hired Rolston, then Nolan again, before hiring Stanley Cup winning coach Disco Dan Bylsma.

Fired Murray and Bylsma and hired Sabres legends Jason Botterill and Phil Housely.

Fired Housely and brought in Megamind Ralph Krueger.

Now how many of those decisions were Terry's alone? Lafontaine and Botterill for sure, then Adams. But didn't Murray and Botterill bring in everyone else, assuming Terry wasn't dictating every move?

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