Darcy Regier and Ken Holland: A Tale of Two NHL General Managers


As a life-long, diehard Buffalo Sabres fan, I have struggled with my loyalty for more than a decade.  I was not a fan of Larry Quinn during his first stint with the team, and when he was brought on board when Tom Golisano bought the team, I became even more disheartened.

Quinn hired a general manager named Darcy Regier during his first tour of duty with the Sabres.  I was not pleased with this choice, and my confidence with the direction this team has taken has diminished over the years.  I am at the point where I am more a casual fan of this team than a diehard, devoted fan.

Regier was unproven and untested while inheriting a very talented team.  He was the general manager when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999—a team that he did not build.  After that season, he slowly dismantled the team and stocked up on draft choices and prospects.  The Cup runner-up was no more and very little was heard of the Sabres until after the lockout. 

Again Regier did nothing to improve the team but the Sabres benefited from the lockout with a young talented team that had the benefit of playing the year before in Rochester of the AHL.  The league had changed its ways and improved the game. 

Unfortunately, that style of play only lasted two seasons and the league went back to its old ways.  During that span the Sabres lost several leaders, including Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Jay McKee, Brian Campbell, and Mike Grier.

Reiger and Quinn had dismantled the scouting department and will rely on video to assess future talent from now on.  The drafts since then have been loaded with good local talent, but are they missing out on the sleeper picks this organization used to pull out of a hat on draft day? Only time will tell.

Regier is finishing his 11th season as the Sabres’ general manager.  I started looking at general managers who have been with the same team as long as or longer than Regier and found it even more disturbing that he is still with the Sabres. 

Jim Rutherford (Carolina), Lou Lamoriello (New Jersey), and Ken Holland (Detroit) have been in the position for the same amount of time or longer than Regier.  They have won seven Stanley Cups between them. 

Holland became GM of the Red Wings two weeks after Regier was hired by the Sabres.  His name is engraved on the world’s most coveted trophy three times during 11 seasons.

Holland has consistently put one of the best teams in the league on the ice every year.  He does it with a few key free agents, excellent drafting, and good trades at the deadline to bring the missing pieces together just in time for a long playoff run.  His teams have won over 100 more games than the Sabres.  They have also won 17 playoff series compared to the 10 wins for Regier’s Sabres.

Heading into the final weekend of the 2008-09 regular season, Holland’s team is poised to make yet another run for the Cup, while Regier and his team readies for the golf course for the second season in a row and the fifth season out of seven.

Another offseason of “wait till next year” for me and my fellow Sabres fans.  I think I will hang my Sabres hat in the corner for a long time to come.  When the dawn arises on a Regier-Ruff free day in Sabres land, I will proudly wear my hat again and hope for future greatness.

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