Fact #1 – The last time the Sabres were really good, the team belonged to Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.  Fact #2 – Each edition of the Buffalo Sabres since…

Fact #1 – The last time the Sabres were really good, the team belonged to Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. 

Fact #2 – Each edition of the Buffalo Sabres since 2007 has been a failure.

Thomas VanekOn July 1, 2007 the keys to the Sabres car were essentially handed to Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, and Jason Pominville. Sensing this group might not be up to the leadership task, the Sabres also mixed in a few “all-used-up veterans” like Craig Rivet, Mike Grier, and Rob Niedermayer along the way.

Over this group’s tenure, the Sabres have made only two playoff appearances and have not gotten out of the first round.  Over the same five years, the team has gone from beloved to bemoaned.

SabresNation never liked this group but couldn’t arrive at a consensus on the problem.  Some blamed talent, some blamed management, some blamed coaching.  Some just blamed Buffalo.

Then, the root cause was famously exposed in November of 2011 when Milan Lucic ran Ryan Miller with reckless abandon.  As the team turtled, the hockey world mocked the Sabres.

And so it was confirmed. The Sabres were, in fact, an embarrassingly soft team. And the core leadership group was unquestionably weak.  This gut-wrenching moment now appears to have become the sobering turning point for the Sabres organization.

Gaustad out. Roy out.  John Scott in. Steve Ott in. Foligno and McNabb coming up. Girgensons on the way.

Now it’s time for the Sabres to move on from Thomas Vanek as well.

Vanek’s 43 goals and 84 points in 2006-07 landed him a mega contract via Edmonton offer-sheet.  Since then, Vanek has pulled down more than $37 million dollars over five years while averaging just 63 points per season. SIXTY-THREE POINTS PER SEASON!

He is a talented player with great hands and vision–  but the Sabres pushed in all their chips on #26 to be so much more.  He’s failed to become the face of the franchise, and most importantly, he’s failed to be the kind of leader this team desperately needs.

Thomas Vanek should have been the easy choice to wear the “C” but Lindy Ruff instead gave the honor to Jason Pominville…  for a reason.  Attitude is infectious and this team would do well to eliminate Vanek’s self-defeating sulking.

The Sabres’ Stanley Cup hopes now lie in the hands of Myers, Ennis, Hodgson, and Foligno, etc.

It’s time to hand over the keys.

While the “Vanek era” has been a failure, he just might be the trade bait that lands the perfect piece to complete the puzzle.


  1. Vanek’s time has run out..Bring in Ryan and start a total new era…I really dont think Ryan for Vanek would happen..Not even up..We would have to sweeten the pot..Those 5 first round picks sure would have been nice..5 firsts for Vanek WOW…

    • You can’t get rid of Vanek and claim you’re starting a “total new era” while Pominville is still on the team, let alone your captain. No one complains about Pominville as much as the other guys, but what more has he done to warrant that favoritism?

      I think that the problem players are already gone. Roy and Connolly, along with Max, were soft players that would never give what they needed to to get this team over the hump. Vanek is always playing hurt, always taking sticks to the face and to the back and he’s always standing in front of that net looking for the dirty goals, even though he’s gifted enough to score from almost anywhere.

      What we need are MORE Thomas Vaneks on this roster, not LESS.

      • Totally agree with this. Casual Sabres fans have wanted to paint Vanek as the next Miro Satan since he signed that big contract. They call him lazy because he doesn’t look fast like Gerbe or Ennis or hit like Kaleta. Really though, he’s a guy that gives his all and takes a pounding for it. There is no one better in the league in front of the net. Give him a real NHL #1 center and see how many times he blows 60 points out of the water.

    • So , you ask for more of the same , eh Jack ? And , you won’t even see the first year from Ryan , as he will have to learn ” Ruff system ” . Ryan need someone to pass him the puck too . Same thing as Vanek needed .
      Tell me Jack , who’s the passer on this team ? That’s was what Drury did , and why Vanek was his triggerman . After he left , so did Vanek’s points .
      What I see is , Ruff is sending a message to he team , ” either your against me , or with me ” , and that came from last day in the locker room after they were sent home by Philly , last season . Vanek said something against Ruff , so did Roy . That’s all that is .

    • 5 first round picks from a team that has picked first three years in a row.Yeah, those would have been nice because if things still played out the same we would have RN-H and Taylor Hall already playing for us.

  2. While there’s no denying that Vanek should burden some of the blame it seems to me that you’re giving Pomminville a pass. After all, as you state, Lindy chose him as the team captain. Where was he during the Lucic incident? His salary isn’t that far behind Thomas Vaneks. There pont totals and games played are almost identical.

    To Vanek’s credit, he is willing to take a beating for the better of the team when he gets beat up in front of the net. I don’t see Pomminville screeening the goal. Not to menion his wide turns he takes along the boards to avoid any and all contact.

    I personally would like to see a coaching change before we go shipping away our most talented player. Just my two cents

  3. Im ok with keeping him because he can produce when he is not relied upon to be a leader, hopefully with the influx of talent/leadership that we have he can return to form and be a 70 point producer for the next few years. By ok with keeping him I just mean i wouldnt force a trade but if a player of Ryan’s caliber required us to part with him i’d be ok. Last but not least hindsight is 20/20 with the 5 picks for Vanek, Darcy’s hand was forced after losing Briere & Drury and its tough to say any one of us wouldnt have matched it to save face.

    • I hate to tell you Josh Z , but it wasn’t Regier that send Drury and Briere . That was Larry Quinn and the ” Pay Check ” King . When he hired Quinn , Quinn took over the G.M. , fired the Scouting dept. , and sent Regier to scout . If you ever run into Regier , ask him about it . All Quinn was hired to do was the save money for the ” Pay check ” King . And that’s why Drury and Briere left .
      I don’t know why most people blame Regier for how the Sabres are doing . It should land on the shoulders of Quinn . If Regier can land Ryan , more power to him . But , Ryan is the same player as Vanek . So , what are you going to do ? What Vanek needs is a playmaker as his centerman are wing man . He haven’t had one for 4 years now . It’s the same thing that Ryan will need .

  4. These articles are really bad bro. Not only will Vanek not get a decent return his problem is not having good players to play with and he still puts up decent numbers. Vaneks gunna have a great season this year especially if he plays with Grigrenko.

    • Do you , Cody , know more than the rest of us ? Grigrenko will step right into the N.H.L. ? When most scouts say that ” he need more time to grow up . And only plays when he wants to play ” . The same thing that most European player need when they come here . About two , maybe three years in the Minors . If , and that’s a big if , he wants to play in the N.H.L. .

      • I do know more than most of you and also you seem to be suffering from selective reading seeing as i never said anywhere that Grigs will step in this year. Sabres fans are very passionate but 90% of us are pretty stupid, mainly because they choose not to think for themselves and just follow along with what everybody else is saying without checking facts. Those fans prove that by yelling all the time about firing Reiger or Ruff or saying things like trade Vanek or any other player and get a 50 goal scorer that with be the final piece of the puzzle. Nash brought back a barely consistent 20 goal scorer. Vanek is no Nash, not nearly consistent enough. so you really think he’s gunna bring back anything that will helps us now. No. unless your throwing more and more pieces into that package. This isn’t the NHL by EA sports. The only way you can really get a high scoring forward, which is the only piece this Sabres team is missing and have been for a while, without giving up a ton of pieces we already have in place is through draft or free agency. The Sabres don’t have many players that other teams want anyway. Myers is always gunna be involved and he’s not a player the Sabres are ready to part with yet and they shouldn’t either.

  5. So you want to trade away Buffalo’s best offensive weapon since Dru and Briere left? Give me a break. Darcy had to pay him, or else Edmonton would have gotten him. And don’t give me that ‘well, we could have had all those 1st-overall picks’ crap. I doubt highly that the Oilers would have been as bad as they were if Vanek had come to Edmonton.

    Besides, if you trade away Vanek, then who’s your go-to scoring threat? Everyone has seen what he can do parked in front of the net. And if you give him a good center, then I bet you he’s a perennial 40-goal scorer.

    What do you suggest we do with him? Trade him and Ennis for Ryan? That’s a step backwards. Watch what Vanek does this year. Getting him away from the oft-selfish Derek Roy is a start. If he starts shooting instead of trying to make the play every time, then he’s putting up 85+.

  6. Can we add this article as one of the dumbest things trending buffalo this week? Getting rid of Vanek would be stupid. The guy gives it his all, playing with heart and soul, even through injuries. With a true #1 center his is easily a 40+ goal scorer.

        • Exactly. He is not signed yet. I’ve been saying this for a month now. Throw an offer sheet at Ryan O’Reilly!. This is the only problem i have with Regier. He never offer sheets anybody. I wouldn’t want to break up the Foligno Ennis Stafford line so no way to the trade Stafford for Stastny. Most Likely they should just wait another year for Iginla to become a free agent next year.

    • I completely agree. The guy plays his heart out every single night. Plays through injuries, criticism from the media/fans. He still puts up descent numbers and never complains. What they need to do is unload draft pucks and defenseman. As much as I like the potential of Luke Adam, if it means bringing a guy in like bobby Ryan ill take that all day. You offer up Adam, sekera/pysak and then a first rounder. Luke Adam has the potential to be a first line center and he showed that in the beginning of last season.

      • Adam is starting to show what he can do . He reads the defense pretty good , and can set up some one to boot . And that’s the problem . Ruff will screw him up some how . He’s probably tell Adam to play defense , only defense . And that’s the problem with the Sabres . The coaching . Not one player was sent out when Miller was creamed by Lucic . That should have happened from the coach . He makes defense players to try to score , and the scorers , to play defense . Putting wingman at center , and centermen at the wings . How long in the management will able to make a move ? Another 14 years of nothing ?

  7. And every since Drury and Briere left town, each of them has won exactly the same amount of hardware as Vanek has.

    This article is just terrible reactionary fan-boy BS. He’s a very good hockey player and has a huge role to play on this team.

  8. This might be one of the dumbest articles written this off-season. Vanek has put up those numbers without the benefit of a good center. He’s one of the few guys willin to go to the net. He plays injured. Try watching the games before saying stupid things.

  9. Fact #1 – Comparing players to Briere and Drury is a complete waste of time. Neither of those players has won a cup since leaving the Sabres. Get over it.

    Fact #2 – The same goes for about 25 other NHL teams. To place that blame predominantly on Vanek is a bit ridiculous.

    Fact #3 – Just because you’re bored because there has been relatively little action lately doesn’t mean anyone is, or should be on the chopping block. Moves for the sake of making moves are bad, which is what every single suggestion to move Vanek has been.

    Fact #4 – Vanek has put up more points per minutes than Parise and Ryan and more goals per minutes than all but four players since the lockout.

    Fact #5 – Craig Rivet, Mike Grier, and Rob Niedermayer were not ‘used up’ when the Sabres acquired them. All of them gave at least one serviceable season. Rivet put up 2-22-24 the first year he played for the Sabres, the third highest assists total and fourth highest points total of his career. In 09-10, the Sabres were 2nd in the NHL killing penalties, thanks largely to Mike Grier’s 2:38 SHTOI per game, highest on the team. Rob Niedermayer gets a lot of crap but his 19 points were in line with the 16, 16, 21, 22 he put up the four previous seasons. Don’t blame him for your unmet expectations. Oh, and he also had 4 points in the playoffs, the same number as Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville. It helps if you actually take the time to look at the numbers.

    Fact #6 – Thomas Vanek has averaged 63 points a season. Fine. Bobby Ryan has averaged 62. One of these players has been centered by Ryan Getzlaf. One has been centered by Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht, Rob Niedermayer, and Luke Adam.

    Fact #7 – It is a wild assumption to say that the Sabres expected Vanek to be the face of the franchise (pretty sure it was Ryan Miller) or that Vanek is guilty of ‘sulking.’

    Fact #8 – Vanek has played with torn ligaments in his leg, a broken finger, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. There is leading with the words you say. There is also leading by example.

    Fact #9 – For harping on Vanek’s so-called unfulfilled potential, you named several players that haven’t accomplished anything.

    Who do you honestly think Vanek, the team’s best goal scorer, can be traded for that improves a team that was notoriously bad at scoring goals last season? What are you going to do when Foligno can’t carry over his hot streak, or Bobby Ryan scores 22 goals because Getzlaf isn’t his center?

  10. Pingback: Vulgar Opinions: Thomas Vanek, Fan Intelligence Black Hole (NSFW) « Black & Blue & Gold

  11. Are you nuts? So lets get rid of any talent and just get grit and goons?! Brilliant….we’ll be the toughest team to ever miss the playoffs by 40 or more points! Vanek and Pommer are the two best players on the team! I love how fans, most of who probably can’t even skate much less know what a hockey team is supposed to look like, love to comment on how everything should be done just because the team isn’t raising a cup every June! Do any of you even played hockey? …on a team? How about we wait to see if the team gels as it is instead of condemning the entire team that existed before 2012? Remember how great the team was going to be this time last year? We can’t go by whats on paper we need to see how they are on the ice and on the locker room benches. Look at LA and tell me how they are that much different from Buffalo talent wise. Just be patient, the Pegula era is still in it’s infancy. The team is still getting to know each other, stop scrambling the damn roster and let them play!!

  12. The Sabres , since being bought by Terry Pegula , changed the players . And brought in some tough . The only thing they haven’t done , was fire Ruff . I can’t understand it , but , Ruff haven’t one Cup in 14 years as the head coach of the Sabres . Are they going to wait for another 14 years ? That should have been the first move they made , fire Ruff . It doesn’t matter how many players into Buffalo or how good they are , you will get the same thing , no playoff , under Ruff’s system . Or , if they do make it , it’s only the first round , and home . 14 Years , and only making the playoffs , 7 times . And only 3 times they have went farther than the first round . How much more can the management take it ?

    • You clearly do not understand hockey. How can you come at me for my hockey knowledge and than say stupid things like this. Ruff is a future hall of fame coach who when given great players, unlike what you said, has gone very far in the playoffs. Not only is all the information in your paragraph wrong (Ruff has made the playoffs 8 times and has actually made it out of the 1st round 5 times. 1 Stanley Cup final, 3 conference finals, and a conference semi final, these are just facts you got wrong, you’re on the internet how hard is it to look up facts) it’s just blatantly stupid. “Ruff hasn’t won a cup in his tenure with the Sabres”, neither did Scotty Bowman who is the most decorated coach in the history of the game. I would say in those 14 years the Sabres had one team th`at actually deserved to win a cup and they got screwed over by injuries and lack of depth. Player management has historically been the problem for the Sabres and since Ruff took over he has had some shitty teams to work with. The problem with this team is either the quality of players or depth. We’ve never had both at the same time and thats what you need to win championships. Ruff has made serviceable players out of guys that shouldn’t have been in the league for years. The people with hockey minds far greater than yours, can see that and that is why he still has a job here. btw what are you 12. Stop commenting on Sabres posts until you start thinking for yourself and learn more about this sport.

  13. Pingback: In Defense Of Vanek - Trending Buffalo

  14. This article is right on. Vanek is his own worst enemy. The guy does sulk a lot which does not help his development. Sure he has talent. But we’ve seen the best he can give us given the current talent level of the team.

    In short, he is part of the Old Regime. Pegula wants to build a new club that is a contender for the Cup every year. I say, get rid of Vanek while he still has value and bring in a young guy like O’Reilly or Berglund.

    Pomminville also needs to go. He is a very consistent player and would have value. But he is no captain.

    You will always find bloggers on here who want the status quo…don’t change anything. But that’s how you build winners – by making the necessary changes. And trading Vanek is an obvious move that needs to go down.

  15. Pingback: Trade Vanek... Or Don't - Trending Buffalo

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