I swear, I thought it was over. The end credits for this horror movie we had been watching were about to roll. Grab your jacket and leave the stale popcorn at your theater seats because we were finally going to see the main villain get his. It always happens during the last five minutes of a movie, doesn't it? The mastermind for all the murders and the enabler of getting killers to do his dirty work was finally going to get his.
I thought the monster with nine lives had finally used up his final one. It was time to hug our loved ones after finally putting the 20th bullet in the bogeyman's cranium. There wouldn't be a bogeyman hiding in the closet, waiting to kill some stupid chick who went to get a sandwich after having sex. It was over. We could finally go home and watch the sunrise in astonishment because we were moving forward and surviving.
However, in a plot twist reminiscent of Michael Meyers coming back from the dead after being blown to bits by Jamie Lee Curtis or that old doctor who looks like Harry Neale, Darcy Regier still lives and is more powerful and dumber than ever.
How in the seven hells did we come to this?
I thought that the firing of Lindy would have cleared the path for Darcy to lay in a GM grave beside John Muckler and Gerry Mehan. Oh, for those who are under the age of 16, those were the GMs that preceded Darcy. I thought the firing of Lindy was his last-ditch effort to save his job. The optimistic take was that it worked in LA and Pittsburgh, so why not here?
It was going to be his last Hail Mary, which is a prayer I've said a few times over the years in hoping Darcy would get handed his walking papers. I remember writing this gem after the Sabres were drilled by the Islanders in RR's home debut. It was an awful game and I thought at that moment the season was finished and so was Darcy.
No way the owner would bring him back to life like Thoros of Myr did to Lord Beric. There was a light at the end of tunnel. How can Pegula let him return? He's a fan. He wants the team to do well. He wants the team to get the hell out of the grave Darcy has dug us in.
So, he gave the guy an extension. Big deal. Pegula lights cigars with 100 dollar bills, right? Just kill the guy off. Make me happy. The writing wasn't just on the wall, it was on the faces of the boo birds at the arena.
The guy has been awful here. He's lost the Midas touch that he earned after the lockout. The stats don't lie. Five playoff wins since "No Goal", missing the playoffs 4 out of last 6 years, over 20 teams have won playoff series since the Sabres beat the Rangers in 2007.
I felt it was going to happen. I really did. It wasn't about being a cynic and calling the whiner line anymore. Whether you were Butch on the Westside or Andrew Peters, at this point, you had to know the end was upon us.
No more mulligans. No more BS. I thought when the season ended we'd get a Tweet from the Sabres saying that Darcy Regier has been fired and was cleaning out his office. Maybe they'd instagram a photo of it. Dust off the old PR statement from Mike Gilbert's desk about how we loved all the work he's done over the years (LIES) and how he's a legend (bigger lie).
Pretty much just pull the statement Pegula made about Ruff and put Darcy's name in its place. I know, I shouldn't high-five someone or fist pump when someone loses their job, but this was one of those moments that you just can't help but yell "YES!" It would have been a harmony of happiness for all Sabres fans.
The organization that prides itself on listening to the fans and have a suggestion box that goes directly to the team president was going to finally listen. Ding-dong, Darcy is dead.
Instead, a mulligan or just a rewritten excuse that we've all heard 100 times before whether it's from John Rigas, Larry Quinn, and now Ted Black. Do you really think fans are this stupid? That the joy of cheering this team on was going to camouflage our mindset in knowing that changes needed to be made? Forget the Sabres taking us for granted. They take us for a bunch of idiots.
HOW THE FUCK DOES THE MICHAEL MYERS OF THE NHL SURVIVE THIS?
That's it. Right place, right time, and stupid bosses. The GM has a horseshoe up his ass and, unfortunately for us, it is blocking his brain waves from making adequate hockey moves to fix this team.
So after 16 years on the job spanning three different American presidents, seven different Bills coaches, and almost half my life staring at my TV screen while grinding my teeth into decay from watching this crap sandwich of a hockey team under perform, the guy is still standing over this nightmare on Jim Kelley Drive.
No different than the garbage man with the winning lottery ticket. So, why not just relive some of the greatest excuses to justify the staying power of a man who is making us goto hockey hell:
1997-2000 (First three seasons)
No issues during this timeframe really. The Sabres won as many playoff series during their first two years under Darcy than over the last 14 years. Great, huh? However, he did inherit the team that John Muckler put together and some goalie who could make a team coached by Paul Newman and captained by the Hansen Brothers look formidable. He made some nice deals (Barnes for Barnaby and Warrener for Wilson). Although, Chris Gratton was Tim Connolly in terms of frustration with his talent level and Doug Gilmour was a shell of his former self. Still, it was a decent three years and I really couldn't find anything to hate about Darcy at this juncture
Reason for coming back to life after a gunshot wound: Nothing.
This was pretty much the Mike Peca holdout year which pretty cemented Darcy Regier as public enemy No. 1. Now, to play Devil's advocate and skewer Darcy more since this is a bash the GM piece, the consensus has always been this was Adelphia's doing. Peca wanted 4-million and the Sabres were willing to give him like 2.8 million. Adelphia was made out to be villains, especially since they ended up being crooks. Now, at that point, the Sabres weren't really frugal with their money.
Why? Because they were stealing the damn money from cable subscribers wanting to watch VH1's behind the Music and MTV True Life.
They had Hasek making $8 million a year. Gilmour, Satan and Gratton were all making coin. They were going deep in the playoffs to make up anything in the red when it came to profiting. They were not anywhere near the bottom of the league in terms of payroll.
Could it have been a case where Darcy just didn't think Peca was worth the money because he was never one of his own guys? Maybe. People nowadays act like 100% of the fanbase wanted Peca for $4 million, but that wasn't the case then.
There were a number of reasons why he didn't get a raise. I remember Empire Sports had a graphic of NHL players who were making 4-million a year and Peca wasn't in that ballpark. Although the Sabres lost in seven against Pittsburgh, the discord of that season was geared around the Peca holdout. Yet, the fault was mostly on the guy with the quotes about giving Darcy the tools to finish the job.
Reason for Michael Myers coming back to life after Dr. Loomis shot him six times: Blaming Adelphia for the Peca situation.
This is when things started getting mulligest. After the Sabres lost to the Pens, they pretty much had a ton of money go off the books with Gilmour, Hasek, Peca and Anderychuk leaving and being replaced by Taylor Pyatt and Tim Connolly.
Um, yeah. Those guys combined to make like a 10th of what Dom was making. Speaking of Dom, this was supposedly when he told Darcy that he had to trade him to Detroit and that the deal had to be severely one-sided.
1) Was this ever documented as in Darcy came out and said this or was it a little birdie telling someone this?
2) I know that in defense of Darcy, had he told Dom he's a Sabre for life or he disobeyed his request to get garbage from the Red Wings, Dom would have retired and the Sabres wouldn't get anything.
However, who the hell cares!?
You really think Dom wouldn't come back for the $8 million he was suppose to get paid? That's a shit load of money to leave on the table. I kind of wish DR would have played hard ball a bit on this.
Along with the Hasek drama came that awful trade deadline deal of acquiring Bob fricken Corkum. The deal will go down as one of the worst trades ever, not just because the guy was terrible, but we had three years in a row of the team being pretty active at deadline. Just awful.
I'm not sure what the hell happened in cutting payroll and sleeping on deadline day, but I kind of want to believe (here comes a mulligan) that Adelphia realized they were in deep shit with stealing money and were like slooooooooooooooow down. The Sabres missed the playoffs and soon after the shit hit the fan when The Rigas family went to jail.
Reason for Michael Myers coming back to life after Jamie Lee Curtis ran him over with the truck: Ownership were crooks and Dom was being a douche.
This was the season from hell. The Sabres had their worst showing in 15 years points wise (72). Some fans thought the team's future was up in the air as the NHL took over. Frankly, I thought that was a bit of a stretch because you don't leave an American market that is so close to Canada and sells out at least 25 percent of their home games because they are playing in a division with Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
It was nothing more than the NHL putting pressure on someone to buy the team with the threat of relocation (like they always have the threat going with Phoenix) and Golisano's cronies making him out to be a hero for buying the team for fricken 60 million bucks with the state pick up a big percentage.
Of course, the Sabres made some nice moves with Drury and Briere coming here, but that season was awful. At the time, most fans were trained to be worried about the team's future and Darcy was able to avoid much of the criticism for the team sucking.
Reason for coming back to life after Neve Campbell shot her boyfriend, who has no spirtual powers besides disguising his voice : NHL Ownership and future in doubt.
Finally, the Sabres have a new owner and rumors at the time persisted that Golisano was a bit of a Steinbrenner when it came to spending money and wanting to win. No. I am not shitting you. That was circling around the media campfire, which tells me it had to have been leaked by Larry Quinn. The Sabres were kind of meh this season. They were good at certain points and bad at others. A lot of the drama was built around Miro Satan possibly getting traded and who should be goalie, Mika Noronen or Marty Biron? The Sabres did one of their heroic runs to 8th, but fell short. The season marked the 3rd straight year the team finished last place in the division. They would do this only one more time (This year). Thank Toronto for sucking, kids.
Overall, the season was kind of an afterthought because everyone knew the lockout was coming. I do remember Golisano made some sort of declaration before the season started that the Sabres had to make the playoffs or else. I think where the mulligan lies here is that there's a perception that the three years prior to the lockout, the team was in a no-win situation because of bankruptcy, the league taking over, and the transition to Golisano.
I just have to say that during this time the Sens were also in bankruptcy and were owned by the NHL and you know what they were doing? Getting 100 points in back-to-back years with the GM that Darcy replaced. How about the Coyotes? Funny, but after they canned Gretzky, who sure as hell wasn't a good owner or coach or talent evaluator, they started making the playoffs. Hmmm. The Coyotes got rid of someone who couldn't do the job and replaced him with someone who can...and the results were good??? What a concept!!
Yet, we just pretend these three years never existed.
Reason for Jason coming back to life after being stuck at the bottom of Crystal Lake with a fucken anchor attached to his feet: Adjusting to new ownership.
Finally we hit the light at the end of the dark tunnel that doesn't resemble a train running us over. The Sabres are surprisingly not just good, but scary good. They finish fourth in the conference — although they had the second-most points — and were able to capture the heart of the town. Golisano was viewed as a hero/crusader and Darcy Regier was merely doing his best Lucius Fox in providing Batman with the tools. Alas, the season ended when pretty much all of our D-men got hurt. What? You didn't think I was gonna mention a mulligan here? Of course I was.
There was some controversy during this season as the Sabres did next to nothing at the trade deadline. A number of people have said they could have gotten more depth on the blueline, which I don't think holds water because they just had bad luck (There's that word again).
However, I still think the Sabres could have traded some of their younger talent (See: Roy or Max) for some proven vets. However, I'm being a bit picky. Let's just stick with the d-man getting hurt as the mulligan.
Reason for Pinhead coming back to life in Hellraiser after being locked in a box that clearly says "Do Not Touch": D-men getting injured.
I've always felt that the President's Trophy team got a bad rap from fans. Everyone always seems to look back at that squad with disdain. They had more scoring and were better in the standings than the previous season's team. I just think people disliked them because the team went from being surprise overachievers to a championship or bust squad. Fans don't realize that when we beat Ottawa in 2005-06, Hasek was out and the Sens had dominated the Sabres during the regular season.
They kind of lucked out in playing the Sens because Ray Emery just wasn't ready. Not to mention all five of those games were decided by a goal. As for this season, the Sabres came out guns blazing and won their first 10 games. They cooled down a bit after the all-star break, but they still maintained a top notch pace. Of course, it all ended in the playoffs against Ottawa. I could probably be a dick about the Zubrus deal, which really didn't pay off, but whatever. There was a bigger 650-pound gorilla to fend off.
So, where did Darcy go wrong in which he gets absolved of?
He didn't try signing 26/51/48/23 earlier. He needed to realize the market was skyrocketing, especially after Danny Briere got $5 million a year from arbitration the previous season and the likes of Jay McKee were getting $4 million a year in free agency. They didn't, which of course went right up to ownership not wanting to pay, which is totally true IMO. We all know what happened and the team hasn't been close to the same. However, ownership gets more of the blame than DR.
Reason for Michael Myers coming back to life after Rob Zombie destroyed a once proud movie franchise: Ownership was cheap
This was pretty much the hangover year for the team. 23/48 were gone. Brian Campbell's contract dealings were a mess. They suspended Teppo. It was garbage. The Sabres were behind the 8 ball for most of the year and never really contended for the 8th spot. In essence, this was kind of a "What the fuck do you want from us? We just lost our best players" year.
Reason for Freddy coming back to life after being dragged into the real world: 23/48 hangover.
Expectations were somewhat modest entering this year. The Sabres finally figured out how to deal with contracts by giving some of their core guys market sized deals (29, 55, 28, and 30) without having to duke it out prior to them hitting the market.
FINALLY! THEY GOT IT!
The Sabres also added Craig Rivet in the offseason. For most of the season, the Sabres battled between that 6th and 8th spot with Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek leading the charge. However, Scott Gomez ran into Miller behind the net, which sent the future Olympian to the sidelines.
But have no fear...We had Patrick Lalime. FAIL!
Lalime was brutal in relief of Miller for the 10 games he missed and the team never recovered. During this time, Vanek, too, went out with an injury and the consensus was he wasn't 100 percent when he came back.
Pretty much this was the first crack of "injuries are a fact of life" rearing its ugly head during the regular season. The Sabres stated that if 30/26 were healthy they would have made the playoffs. Sound familiar? This was also the season in which we all thought they would get rid of Tim Connolly once and for all. Instead, they gave him two-years, $9 million. Oh, and don't forget about adding Dominic Moore while getting rid of Clarke MaCarthur's and Ales Kotalik's salary.
Yeah, fun times!
My favorite part of this year was when Larry Quinn said there would be a top to bottom evaluation and actually gave fans hope that changes would happen. Nothing really happened which tells me his evaluation lasted about 18 holes of golf. Mulligans!!
Reason for Leatherface coming back to life after his leg was chopped off by his own chainsaw: Vanek and Miller were hurt and we finally are giving longterm deals.
Finally! The Sabres didn't suck and we didn't need a silly heroic run to the 8th seed. Instead, we had a heroic run by Ryan Miller who went from franchise goalie to Olympic hero. The defense played great and the Sabres won the division. Unfortunately, they got Boston in the first round, which of course brought out another injury mulligan. Vanek, who was hot entering the playoffs, was speared by Johnny Boychuk in Game 2 and missed the next three games. This was the mulligan Darcy needed as if Vanek was healthy, we would have won.
Of course, the Bruins were missing their best player at the time (Marc Savard), but screw it! We need excuses. Forget that Raffi Torres was an awful deadline deal and Roy/Connolly were invisible in the playoffs, yet, they came back the following season. It's those damn injuries that only the Sabres seem to face.
Reason for why Candyman came back to life after figuring out that if you didn't say his name you were fine: Thomas Vanek got hurt in the playoffs.
The season started poorly for the Sabres as Miller didn't look the same from the previous season and the team was missing Hank and Toni. By the end of December, the Sabres were in last place in the Eastern Conference and their best offensive player up until that point was out until April at least (Shockingly, it was Derek Roy. Remember that hot start?). At that point, I thought a firing was going to to go down.
Things looked bad until the Terry Pegula rumors started coming around. Amazingly, the Sabres got hot and started kicking ass. It was probably the worst thing to happen since it made management think they had something special with this group.
The Sabres went on a heroic run to get to the seventh spot and took Philly to the brink. Alas, the prevailing thought for why the Sabres lost to Philly had to do with injuries... again.
Yes, Buffalo got snake bitten when Pominville, Hecht and Connolly got hurt, yet, the Flyers were also playing without Carter and Pronger.
Injuries are a fact of life, right?
Oh, and forget that Niedermayer and Morrisonnnson or whatever how you spell his name, were busts. However, the biggest thing was the ownership change. Now Darcy would be able to do his dirty work with vault full of cash. No more mulligans!! No more blaming people above you!!
Reason for why Hannibal Lecter came back to life when he's well, just a man: Injuries, but let's see what Darcy can do now with no strings attach!!
This season was awful. We had drama about Miller/Lucic, the team being filled with a bunch of pussies, winning one road game in January, and drama about Miller not liking it here anymore because his wife was Janet Jones.
So much for having a blank check, Darcy.
Ville Leino and Brad Boyes were awful. Drew Stafford was once again inconsistent. Derek Roy struggled. It was just terrible. Terrible to the point that you kind of thought Darcy would finally be sent his walking papers.
But Darcy had an ace in the hole...injuries. Injuries were a fact of life, so said Pegula. Of course, I can roll out toilet paper full of teams who played well with injuries over the years. Yet, it was ignored here. Yeah, the Sabres played well down the stretch and almost made the heroic run to 8th complete. They fell short, but they didn't fall short in making the injury excuse.
On top of that, the Sabres were able to get a 1st round pick for Goose which is treated like the Hercshel Walker trade by the team and Darcy's fan club
Reason why Jason came back to life after being in outer space and knowing you can't exactly breathe air out there: Injuries are a fact of life and Darcy made a few deals.
Do we really have to revisit? Going into the season, I thought the Sabres would be a borderline eighth seed. They weren't even close really. They fired their coach, they tried selling our young kids as being the heir apparent, and once again relied on 29-26-21 to do the balance of our scoring. Just didn't happen.
So, how did Darcy save his job?
Oh, by pretending this was the plan all along. The rebuilding was set in motion once they traded Goose last year.
Nothing says rebuilding like trading a third-line center and then trying to outbid everyone for Doan, Parise and Sutter. Just trying to build this team by the seat of their pants and spinning a negative into a positive. Oh, and P&B (Pegula and Black) are only judging Darcy on the last two years now. It's as if the previous 14 never happened. Hooray. I never heard of someone taking over a business that was a previous failure and just keeping the same guy around when the business was still failing, do you?
Reason why Jason and Freddy came back to life after fighting in a cornfield and realizing that Jason actually sleeps: Ownership is basing it on the last two years with Darcy and they are rebuilding.
"We are Judging Darcy based off the last two years."
Those words have been echoed a few times by Ted Black over the last few months when it comes to why Darcy Regier still has a job. I've been on record a few times in saying that because of their run towards the end of their last playoff season, they should have given DR another year.
He failed. Horribly, I might add during the last two seasons. He should be gone. They did their due diligence and gave him a shot and it has blown up in his face.Yet he survives... Why is Darcy getting the two-year excuse and Lindy Ruff didn't?
My theory..which is a bit on the message board of conspiracy theories...
Terry Pegula likes nice people and wants everyone to be happy around him.
You can't be happy if you are surrounded by assholes, right? With owning the Sabres, Pegula kind of feels like the dork in high school who gets to hang around the cool kids for a change. He loves being the life of the party, but more importantly he wants everyone to think they are at the best party of their lives. Bosses are like that sometimes. They want to be your friends and try and give you every chance to succeed because they like you.
He's also very protective of his new found friends who are picked on unmercifully (See: When he was defiant against TBN for their treatment of Tim Connolly on his first day as the owner). In a way, Pegula's passion for the team has lead to him being too compassionate for them.
No one is nicer and is more picked on than Darcy Regier. In some sort of spell that can only resemble some hot ass girl falling head over heals for an ugly douchebag (My dream), Darcy has his claws into T-Pegs.
As for why Lindy Ruff got canned even though his performance was based on less than 120 regular season games under P&B... I'm going with how he was an asshole. A major one.
His players hated his guts and constantly complained about him. Whether it was on the record, off it, or after they got the hell out of here, it is safe to say he won't be going to any players' weddings anytime soon. Maybe Pegula felt bad for the players. Maybe he doesn't believe in criticism like Tim Connolly got from TBN.
Remember all those stories about how this was going to be a kindler, gentler Lindy Ruff heading into this season? Why on earth would after 15 years on the job, Lindy would decide to all of a sudden become a nice guy? It is not like the Sabres disappointing season is an anomaly here, right? It was well documented how players were pissed off after last season from the treatment Ruff gave to them and I think that resonated with Pegula and forced the change in tactics by Ruff. That's why Lindy is gone and Darcy is here.
It just doesn't make sense that Darcy has survived and Ruff is gone.
Sure, you can go the route of 9/10 times the coach gets canned before the GM, but why only after 1.5 seasons? Even in the cutthroat coaching business of the NHL, that doesn't feel like a lot of time if we are basing it on Ted Black's performance review window. Find me another theory...please.
Oh, and don't think we haven't stopped with the mulligans, because take a guess at what next year's excuse ends up being?
You guessed it...They are young and rebuilding.
They lowered expectations in saying that we are going to get younger guys and suffering is on the horizon. If they somehow overachieve and actually go on a heroic run, we'll act like they are making progress.
Amazingly, if they go the draft route, this gives Regier at least 2-3 more years to ride the ship. You aren't going to have a team that constantly gets players drafted within the 10-15 spots turn it around quickly. It doesn't happen like that in the NHL.
Not only that, but is there a player on the roster who we can say needs to develop right now or else Darcy gets canned?
Maybe Myers? Ennis?
There aren't as many young talented players on this team that need to turn the corner next year. I still think Grigo is 1-2 years away and most of their younger guys don't have the hype machine behind them. With the Sabres signing onto Darcy's rebuilding campaign, he's going to get a few more years here, especially if he's already saying he's selling suffering. Trust me, Darcy has always been someone to shine some sense of optimism on his roster (See: Tim Connolly and Derek Roy being top 20-centers).
What is Darcy's hurry at this point? You are rebuilding and you have to wait a few years out for the young guys to come around.
Yes, the predictable storyline of horror has now become the NHLs version of Friday the 13th franchise. You don't need to even acknowledge how it is a constant remake with a new cast and special effects, because they keep going through the same plots.
The victims or the players always change. They always bring in new sheriffs or new owners to clean up this mess, yet, the mess just gets messier and the fatalities keep going up.
It just never ends or evolves because the same bogeyman in this slasher series is still here while our hockey hearts are being slashed to bits.
Darcy isn't dead and this doesn't look to be the final nightmare.