If you ask me, Time Warner Cable and MSG couldn’t have picked a better time to block out Sabres fans from watching MSG broadcasts.
In fact, if you’re missing out on the games, I can assure you that a switch is not necessary, as you haven’t been missing much.
It goes without saying, I think, that the play of the Sabres has possibly reached a season-long low over the past few weeks and, following yet another loss at the First Niagara Center on Saturday at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets, the whispers that once demanded change to the roster of the struggling franchise have begun to shift toward a resounding roar.
But we’ve been through this before. The Sabres start playing poorly and all fans can do is keep their fingers crossed that GM Darcy Regier executes some sort of deal. Typically, under Tom Golisano, Regier would pull off one or two deadline deals that seemed logical enough at the time to silence the critics, only to eventually fail to yield much benefit to the team.
This time, though, it’s supposed to be different.
In the era of Terry Pegula and Ted Black, everything is supposed to be bigger and better. It’s a culture change that presumably means Regier would shed his handcuffs and get to work on building a team to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Well, 41 games in — halfway through the season — the Sabres don’t resemble anything near a playoff team, let alone one that could compete with the heavyweights of the NHL.
The Sabres are a mess, losing 10 of their last 13 games and have not won back-to-back games since Nov. 11.
After each loss, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the current so-called “core” of the Sabres Regier has put together over the years is not at all capable of achieving Pegula’s ultimate goal.
That so-called “core” obviously refers to Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht and Drew Stafford. They’ve been in Buffalo for the longest. They’re all that remains from those Conference Finals teams of ’05-’06 and ’06-’07. It is now becoming ever so evident that this group is not capable of winning without their former captain, Danny Briere and Chris Drury.
But why live in the past? Let’s look at the present.
Aside from Vanek and Pominville, who have been magnificent, the numbers of the remaining vets are startling.
Roy has only 24 points in 40 games. Gaustad wins draws with the best of them, but his three goals this season have shown that’s about all he can do. Stafford and Leino have combined for just 32 points while Hecht, well, don’t get me started on Jochen Hecht. And above all, the defense looks absolutely shell-shocked night in and night out, which is put on display in the form of Ryan Miller’s dreadful stats to this point.
So, that leaves everyone asking the same beckoning question: When will Regier answer the call and essentially begin to blow up this ineffective core? Because clearly, the current roster is incapable of winning at the standard that will be expected going forward.
If you’re into the trade rumors that have been swirling about, which almost all of you assuredly are, you probably expect a move to be made in timely fashion. But that’s not typically how Regier does business. So will that change?
It’s no secret that just about every team in the NHL would love to get their paws on the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry or Bobby Ryan.
In the NHL, it’s not very often guys of that caliber are made available via the trade market.
The thought is, that if the trade winds blow just right, Regier may be able to figure out a way to finagle a stud away from the Ducks.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Regier has the stones to trade away his home-grown talent and young prospects that would surely be required to accomplish such a transaction, there has never been a better time throughout his career to pull the trigger.
Ducks GM Bob Murray stated in an effort to shake up his own struggling franchise that he’ll be looking for core players from other teams to swap out with his underachieving bunch. He also made it clear that he was not looking to rebuild, and is in search of assets that can contribute to his team’s success now, rather than draft picks.
The coincidence is that it turns out the Sabres are experiencing the same issues of underperformance with their core players, making them an ideal trade partner for Murray. The change of scenery could very well be the antidote players from each team need to return to their expected form.
The art of creating and executing trades is an essential talent every NHL GM most possess in order to build a Cup contender. Now more than ever it has become apparent that this team needs to make a change. So it’s time Regier gets to work if he wishes to stay on as GM of the Sabres.
Look, we all know the Sabres won’t be winning the Cup this season. That’s a forgone conclusion at this point in the season. But I do still expect this team to make it into the playoffs, and it was my belief at the beginning of the season that they were very capable of finally making it out of the first round.
That remains my expectation of this team to this day. However, I’m beginning to feel like I’d be satisfied with simply qualifying for the playoffs at this point.
At the rate the Sabres are going, even that could be turning into a lofty expectation. Which is why I think it’s time for Regier to step in.
With each passing day, the Sabres’ hole they’ll be required to climb out of to make the playoffs grows deeper and deeper. In the current state they’re in, I’m very confident this year’s edition is not capable of making a late dash to the postseason like last season’s team.
That means the Sabres have mere weeks to figure things out before it may be too late to piece together any sort of last-minute surge.
Regier doesn’t have to go out and grab a Getzlaf or Ryan, but he had better make a splash that shakes up the core of the Sabres before the Feb. 27 deadline, or else it may mean the end of his 14-year tenure here in Buffalo if the team fails to make the postseason.
You almost certainly don’t agree with Brandon’s opinion on this matter, so please, let him hear about it in the comment box or be sure to follow him on Twitter @THWGoldSchlager and express your distaste.