Irony alert– a stale message about a “stale message.”

pegulaLooking back on my earlier Sabres post, I was a bit too vague.

Perhaps, what I really should’ve said was “I don’t agree with anything Bucky Gleason wrote about Terry Pegula in his Sunday column.”

(Note: If you can’t get to the column because you’re behind the paywall, I’d recommend spending the miniscule amount that TBN is charging so that its employees can feed their families.)

I should have been more suspicious when Terry Pegula purchased the Sabres and started talking about winning the Stanley Cup. I should have watched and waited before listening and believing. I should have been more skeptical. I should have realized he was too good to be true.

But you couldn’t. In the moment, your cynicism couldn’t overpower what you were actually witnessing. It was impossible to spin “there are no longer any obstacles” into anything but “well, this is nice” without any losses under the belt of the new regime. You were 100% without even pop gun ammunition.

It was about this time two years ago in which several people from Pegula’s inner circle fawned over him and insisted the Sabres would change for the better. He would clean up this mess, I was told. He was obsessed with bringing the city a championship, I was told. Actually, it was championships, plural, I was told.

Well, they’ve only awarded 2 Cups since that day. One went to the Bruins, who were 13 points ahead of the Sabres on the day in question. The other went to the Kings, who finished with one more regular season win than the Sabres last year, grabbed the 8 seed out West, got hot, and brought it home.

They said he would restore credibility. And they were wrong.

Because the tail end of one season, a full season, and dozen or so games of another over the course of less than 2 calendar years should be enough time to remake an entire franchise, right?

High-ranking people from across the league are laughing at the Sabres, just as they did last year after the season turned ugly. What people, you ask? Sorry, but their names will remain private. It’s an unfortunate but necessary aspect of the media that many don’t understand, but with anonymity comes unfiltered opinions. And the general opinion from a wide range of hockey minds – general managers, scouts, agents, league officials, former players – is that Pegula’s success in the real world means almost nothing in the sports world. Most are stunned Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff have survived when common sense called for their dismissal long ago.

No knocking of anonymous sources here. They exist and that’s where you get the good stuff. But if you get to quote them, we get to guess who they are, right? That seems reasonable. Without even getting into names, are these the same people you’d call if you were looking for glowing quotes about the franchise? The guess here is no. If you want someone to bash the team, you know who to call. You’ve been calling them for years. They say the same things. You write the same things. That’s how this works.

The Sabres missed the playoffs six times in 14 seasons under Regier and Ruff, matching the DNQ total for Buffalo in all other seasons combined.

Let’s ignore fact that this includes the lengthy era (1979-1993?) when 16 of the leagues 21 teams qualified for the postseason.

In truth, his affection for the Sabres, while admirable, has worked against him. They needed a cold, distant evaluation that would have revealed changes were in order. Members of his inner circle told him to clean house. Instead, he became smitten with Regier and Ruff. He embraced status quo and, with that, accepted mediocrity.

And, clearly, members of his inner circle also told him NOT to clean house. But let’s pretend Pegula didn’t take any advice and instead set an intended course for failure.

The real kicker was Regier’s contract extension, a reward for years of failure, before the season.

With no financial obstacles, a contract extension means nothing more than “you’re still my guy until such time as you’re not my guy.” If it is determined today that Darcy Regier is no longer the man for the job, he will be jettisoned TODAY. Pegula will sign the check and move on. (You understand this, right? It’s a pretty important point, so consider reading it again.)

Obviously, they’re convinced Regier holds the secret to winning the Cup. Otherwise, he would be gone.

Or they don’t have a better solution in place at the moment. Come to think of it, I haven’t read your solution either. What’s the plan? Fire Regier and Ruff? OK, now there’s no GM or coach. Is there a step 2 to your silver bullet solution? Go on.

It trickles down from there. Regier has refused to fire Ruff, who over time or repetition lost his voice. He might have reinvented himself again, but his players are getting coached by the same man with a message from the same lips. Players see the coach and general manager keep their jobs, and mediocrity becomes acceptable.

Irony alert– a stale message about a “stale message.”

The Sabres can continue putting an inferior product on the ice, and I’ll keep writing that their product is inferior. I’m not going anywhere. Pegula isn’t going anywhere. Regier isn’t going anywhere. Ruff isn’t going anywhere. Until changes are made, it doesn’t appear the Sabres are going anywhere, either.

2 for 4. Gleason and Pegula seem safe.

Ruff and Regier continue to be up for debate and this season, so far, hasn’t done much to solidify their spots.

But they’re not going away simply because panicking fans or columnists want to jam years of frustration into the last 720 days.


  1. @BradRiter well written.  As I read Gleason’s article yesterday, I thought many of the same points you made here.  I wonder how many of these same articles he has to write before his bosses “get tired of his message” and “turn a deaf ear to the same thing” etc. and decide he isn’t safe either.  I seriously wonder what he’d write about if the Sabres ever DID fire R&R.

  2. haha… DAMN… Bucky Gleason, consider yourself OWNED. yeah, that piece he wrote a couple of days ago (or was it yesterday?) made me cringe…. not that I have a very high regard for the Buffalo News in the first place, but I was actually shocked it was published in the manner in which it was…. clearly it was nothing more than an Op-Ed…. presented as an article. what a joke.

  3. Brad, I take issue with one point in this article, and it’s the one tangent you made at the beginning:
    “(Note: If you can’t get to the column because you’re behind the paywall, I’d recommend spending the miniscule amount that TBN is charging so that its employees can feed their families.)”
    Now, I can get behind the paywall as a Sunday print subscriber, but if I wasn’t, my concern is making smart budgetary decisions to feed my family.  If I don’t feel TBN is providing me enough content to justify that expense, no matter how miniscule, I’m just not going to do it.  A desire to read one article is not going to do it, and the snide plea for TBN’s employees’ families is amateurish at best.  I’ve read other items you’ve written before, and you’re better than that.

    • @MFLoGrasso you could also just hit stop in your browser before the page fully loads and you get around the paywall.  The paywall is the last script to load on the page.  sometimes you don’t get the comments.

      • @bbuck002 Like I said, the paywall doesn’t affect me, because you get access to the full online site if you have any print subscription, and I’m more than happy to pay $2.75/week  for the amount of coupons my wife cuts out and uses.

  4. Important point to remember: Bucky Gleason is a member of the Guild and can’t be fired short of his committing plagiarism or some other conduct that would avoid a union grievance

  5. I agree that attacking Pegula is premature. But I’m getting tired of Reiger as well. Trading for Boyes, signing Leino, I mean seriously people, how many second line forwards do we need? Trading for Robin Rehger and expecting him to be a top four defenseman after the Rivet debacle. C’mon man. Defensive defensemen are slow, that’s why they get drummed out of the league around the time they turn 32 (see- McKee, Jay).
    All that being said, there’s enough talent here to make the playoffs, and it doesn’t look that is even going to happen. That’s on Ruff. I like the idea of Johnny-on-the-spot offense where the D is free to pinch, but it has lead to too many soft defensemen who don’t eliminate enough opposing forwards in the corners and get the puck out of their zone. Ruff is a great coach and will find another job three years from now when he finally loses his current job. Reiger’s gone from the league when we dump him.
    And for the record, check the ice time for forwards on Sunday. 17 minutes for Gerbe and Hecht, 15 for Vanek. I don’t care how tired Vanek is. Two or three more dog tired Vanek shifts still give us a better chance to score than double that number for Gerbe. Give Stafford (also a 15 minute man) a few more shifts for that matter. He hasn’t been nearly as annoying as his stats seem to indicate.
    Watching the recent Leafs-Sabres reminded me of the Bills-Cardinals game. During both of those games, I watched with great despair realizing that neither team I was watching had any chance of making the playoffs. And even if by some miracle, they did/do, they weren’t/ aren’t going anywhere.
    And by the way, unless you are getting a proven 30 goal scorer who is still in his prime who can generate his own shot, trading Vanek is insane. No one else on the team can generate what Vanek can. We can’t afford to trade him for picks or prospects without proven goal scoring talent. If you can’t come up with a viable trade idea, leave the trade-Vanek shock value weak sauce home.

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