Half of the longest tenured GM/Coach tandem in the NHL is set to keep his share of that title as the Sabres announced today, along with the unveiling of the 3rd jerseys, that Darth Regier has had his contract extended by 2 seasons, keeping him in the role he's had since 1997 through 2011. According to Managing Partner/Co-Owner Larry Quinn this extension was agreed to back in April, but was finalized only recently.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Regier and his ability to steer this franchise through an ever changing landscape of the NHL and the macro-economy. If you listen to the press conference announcing this extension, it was dominated by majority owner Tom Golisano and his return to New York State politics with his P.A.C. 'Responsible New York.' His comments about the operating environment in Buffalo reveals to me just how much of a challenge he believes it is. Given that Golisano took a lot of heat publicly about his passivity towards past contract negotiations his appearance at this presser, I think, was a necessity.
While Regier and Quinn stood out front to take the brunt of the outrage from last summer's happenings, Golisano remained silent and that silence infuriated a lot of people. It is the nature of things, regardless of whether you think it's fair or not.
So, given all of this, when one looks at Regier's record it's nothing short of astonishing. The Sabres are one of the most consistently winning franchises in all of modern sports, making the Eastern Conference Finals 4 times during his tenure. And, while I know that just about every Buffalo sports fan would gladly trade all of those wins for just one Stanley Cup (believe me I'm one of them), part of me is still impressed that the team is still in existence.
No person works at a job for 11 years and does not make a mistake. The challenge Regier has is that in Buffalo his margin for error is extremely thin and with that, every decision is 2nd, 3rd and 4th-guessed. By contrast, for every great move Evil Lou makes in New Jersey, he makes any number of blunders (*cough* Matvichuk *cough*) which his budget allows him to make with little consequence. Ken Holland in Detroit is another GM who always seems to make great decisions but his budget provides him with greater access to resources (to which he puts them to excellent use, no doubt) to distribute throughout his hockey team's organization, from personnel on-ice to the scouts and coaches he hires.
In my mind, no one does more with less than Regier. WIth the Golisano era in its 6th year it's obvious to me that their longer-term strategy of building the relationship between the team and the fans to maximize what revenues the area is capable of sustaining is working. Agree or disagree, the proof is in the results. Regier's been a major part of that.