I asked this very question last night and now I'm going to answer it. I'll start with the loss of Drury and Briere and who is to blame and then I'll move on to next years team.
If you listen to the mainstream media they would have you believe that this is all managements fault and the Sabres would be better off without Regier and Quinn. Did the Sabres make some bad decisions? probably... will they make other bad decisions? probably... but the fact remains that the Sabres would not have been anywhere near the team they have been without Darcy Regier.
I think you have to put the blame on the players. It become painfully obvious that Briere was going to leave at the end of the season. In one of the worst kept secrets of all time we learned back in February that Martin Biron and Danny Briere had conversations about playing together in Philly. Why aren't our friends at TBN pointing that out instead of criticizing management at an alarming rate. It wasn't as obvious but in the end Chris Drury didn't want to be a Sabre either. The thought of living out a childhood dream and playing for the Rangers became to appealing to pass up so Drury moved on as well. In the end management had no say in either playing staying in Buffalo the decision was made by the players themselves.
In a couple of years we may find out that the decisions made by Regier and Quinn were the correct moves. Both Drury and Briere struggled a little bit before being acqiured by the Sabres. Chris Drury had never scored 30 goals in a season prior to being a Buffalo Sabre in fact the two seasons before being acquired by Buffalo were subpar. In his final season with Colorado he had 21G-25A-46P and in his only season with Calgary he had 23G-30A-53P... these are not bad numbers but he was also traded twice in two years.
Chris Drury quote back in 2003
"I just don't know what to think. I play in Colorado, they tell me they like me, and I get traded. I play in Calgary, and at the end of the season the GM tells me he likes me, and I get traded. I just hope my fiancee doesn't tell me she likes me."
Chris Drury, after a July trade from Calgary to Buffalo.
Briere had a similar situation in Pheonix before being acquired by Buffalo for Chris Gratton (that's right Darcy gave up only Gratton to get Briere). In 2001-2002 Briere had a breakout season scoring 32 goals and adding 28 assists for 60 points but struggled in 2002-2003. In 02=03 he dropped to 17G-29A-46P before being acquired at the trade deadline by Buffalo where he scored seven goals in 14 games to finish the season. Briere had an immediate impact on the Sabres scoring 28G-37A-65P in his first season as a Sabre.
The point is that both of these players thrived under Lindy Ruff and had struggled prior to being in Buffalo. Is it possible these guys were a product of the system and will struggle again?
I want to thank everyone who sent e-mails and I encourage you to register for the site and write diaries and comments. I can not believe the great e-mails I have recieved it has been great.
Who is to blame?
This poll is closed
Drury and management
Briere and management