BUFFALO – The Sabres want their rabid fan base to understand something, general manager Darcy Regier said. The organization’s new philosophy – one that embraces building for a Stanley Cup, not simply making the playoffs – could require some suffering.
“We have gone with more determination in a very distinct direction, which is about the Stanley Cup,” Regier said this afternoon during a contentious and even bizarre 46-minute season-ending news conference inside the First Niagara Center. “So I feel good about it. I love the opportunity. I understand what we’re talking about here. I understand our fan base and I would like to think that people will give up some suffering in order to win a Stanley Cup.
“I’m willing to do it. I believe our fan base is willing to do it. We certainly don’t want to extend it for a long period of time. We want to make it as short as possible, and that’s the goal.”
The news conference, something the Sabres refused to hold after also missing the playoffs last season, might become part of local lore.
The media hammered president Ted Black on the Sabres’ decision to announce their 4 percent season-ticket increase Friday, Fan Appreciation Night, and owner Terry Pegula’s availability to the media.
Black sparred with reporters, at one point telling one to “behave yourself professionally” and that he was showing bias. Black later apologized.
The long session served as another reminder Pegula’s original plan – the one about winning the Stanley Cup in three years – is history.
“We’re in a process right now where we’re trying to rebuild, reboot, revamp – whatever ‘re’ word we’re comfortable using,” Black said.
The process, Black said, started last June at the NHL Entry Draft. Regier took it back further to the 2012 trade deadline, when the Sabres traded veteran Paul Gaustad for a first-round choice.
Forget about when it started, though. This could be a long and arduous process.
“The distinction is it’s not about the playoffs, it’s about a Stanley Cup, which certainly involves the playoffs, and I’m not going to lighten that,” Regier said.
Regier said Pegula’s trying lots of things to deliver that championship.
“He is in search of creating a Stanley Cup championship,” Regier said. “That has not changed. In fact, it’s been reinforced. It’s stronger than ever. It may require some suffering. It may require some suffering.”
Regier added: “Fans should expect we will acquire top players, and enough top players to contend and win a Stanley Cup. What that involves, the hope is that’s the shortest timeframe possible.”
The standard in Buffalo, Regier said, isn’t the playoffs.
“It’s not the happiest. It’s not the saddest,” Regier said about making the postseason. “But it’s a level. It’s an acceptable level. It’s an acceptable level around the league. It’s just not the standard here, and I recognize I’m saying that in light of two missed playoffs.”
Obviously, Regier, who signed a long extension prior to the season, is staying on, Black said.
The future of interim coach Ron Rolston, who took over for Lindy Ruff on Feb. 20, hasn’t been determined.
Regier plans to meet with Rolston over the next week or two.
“I think he did a very good job under trying circumstances,” Regier said.
Check back later for much more.