As the news came in that Terry Pegula will presumably be assuming ownership of the Buffalo Sabres soon, many of us speculate as to what changes in the front office will occur. I’m not saying I have a finger on the pulse of the fans, but I think it’s plausible to say many are leaning towards keeping Lindy Ruff (in any capacity), and jettisoning Darcy Regier and Larry Quinn.
I’m on board with keeping Ruff and letting Regier go. Why Ruff didn’t sign an extension is beyond me (I’d look at it as free money). And Regier must have set the world record in signature writing speed when penning his name to an extension. I’m okay with relieving him of his GM duties. As to whether or not he should have a stay in the organization, I’m 50/50. He is a good hockey mind; just not a good GM (especially when it comes to negotiations).
Getting completely rid of Quinn is one thing I don’t understand though. I don’t think (and boy, could I be wrong) he was part of the actual "hockey decisions" that have made this team into what it is. I think (which means "I guess") that Quinn got his marching orders from Golisano. "Here you go Larry - you get ‘this’ much for hockey, and ‘this’ much for non hockey. Don’t spend it all. Make me some money."
The team has spent close to the cap in every year since the lockout. That’s on Darcy for not maximizing your cap dollars. When you’re throwing out money the way you do/did on the wrong players, eventually, that will catch up to you, and you’ll find yourself in the spot you’re currently in.
Larry Quinn may have left the team’s fans with a bad taste in their mouth in his first go round as President of the club in the 90’s. His "firing" of the popular Ted Nolan did not bode well amongst the fan base, and when Rigas took over, he was subsequently fired. Quinn returned to prominence again when the Rigas regime turned the keys over to Golisano, and if you ask me, has
relatively flourished since done better than Doug Moss, and without the scandal.
Obviously, I’m not privy to the teams financial statements. But I suspect they look a whole heck of a lot better now than they did back then. This is an organization on strong footing (as far as I know). As small markets go, this is as good as it gets. WNY routinely ranks high in the Nielson Ratings when it comes to hockey, and that’s without the benefit of counting our Southern Ontario neighbors. Quinn surely gets some of the credit for making this organization fiscally stable again, doesn’t he?
Is Quinn without fault here at all? Absolutely not. I’ve heard stories of cheapness in day to day operations that defy logic, from cab ride tales to and from the airport, to relations with Delaware North (the company Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs owns that has the major concessions contract at HSBC). These are the types of things that usually go unreported, but give you a bad reputation around the league. Are they a result of Golisano’s decisions, or Quinn’s? I doubt we ever hear the ‘rest of the story’ Paul Harvey style, but my money says it comes from the top.
If I’m Pegula, I’d strongly consider keeping Quinn around. The dude is connected, and respected (Bass Pro aside). He doesn’t need to be your next team president; he just needs to be in your organization. Add the guy to your payroll in a small way. He’s had a voice on the NHL’s Board Of Governors (he’s an alternate I believe); why would you let that go? Even if he won’t be on that board anymore, he still has all of the contacts and relations built. It’d be foolish just to throw that away.
There is some brain power in the Sabres organization. There’s no question about that; a lot of the folks there have done a great job there under Golisano’s ownership; some have not. It’s important for Pegula to choose to keep the right people for the right reasons as this transition occurs. I’m not saying Quinn has to stay forever, but I think it’d be a good idea to keep him around in a consulting role for awhile.
Of course…I could be wrong.