Sure the Buffalo Sabres have never won a Stanley Cup in Franchise history, a history that dates back to the 1970-1971 season. In fact the Sabres have only competed in the Stanley Cup Finals only twice in franchise history (they lost both series in six games... on home ice). The fact of the matter is that Darcy Regier is trying to build a team of players who have won championships. The list of players who have won championships is extensive and it adds a little bit of insight into the current signings made by the Buffalo Sabres.
Thomas Vanek is not only the Sabres highest paid player but he is also a winner. Thomas Vanek won the NCAA National Championship in 2003 while a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Vanek was not only on the team but a key contributor, leading the team with 31 goals and 31 assists that season. In the National Championship he was named the MVP of the Frozen Four. That tournament was the first glimpse of Thomas for many Sabres fans because the tournament took place at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo that year.
The second player that the Sabres spent money on this season was Derek Roy and Derek is another player who is a proven winner. Roy didn’t take the NCAA route but rather the Canadian Major Junior route playing with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. After the 2002-2003 season, the Rangers won the Memorial Cup, the Memorial Cup is a four team tournament featuring the three champions of the Canadian Hockey League (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) and a tournament host. In that Memorial Cup victory, Roy won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the Memorial Cup MVP.
Brian Campbell is another player who has won a major championship. Campbell played on the 1999 Memorial Cup winner for the Ottawa 67’s. The 67’s were not the OHL Champions but were in the tournament because of being the host. The 67’s team was the division winners but was upset by Belleville in the semi-finals. Campbell was the best player on that Ottawa team earning player of the year honors.
The Sabres desire to have winners on the team that forced them to make a decision to allow Daniel Briere to walk while trying to sign Chris Drury. Drury has a long history of winning dating back to the 1989 Little League World Series when he was the pitcher and MVP for Trumbull, Connecticut. Drury was also a member of the Colorado Avalanche when they won the Stanley Cup in 2000-2001.
It is easy to see why Larry Quinn, Darcy Regier and the Buffalo Sabres decide it was not only worth it but imperative that they get players like Vanek and Roy signed and signed long term. The future is bright in Buffalo and don’t let anyone tell you differently.