There have obviously been way more lows than highs under Terry Pegula's ownership. Who would have thought that two years ago? All the dreams we had about money changing the trajectory of this team for the better was nothing more than treachery.
We get our legendary coach fired and the team seems to be on the cusp of making another heroic run to 10th place for the 3rd straight season. It has been a big pile of compost for the two years for the most part.
However, I'd be remised to not mention there have been some brighter spots during the Pegula reign. There's Pegula day, the time they clinched the playoffs against the Flyers in 2011, Leino/Ehrhoff deals, and the Robyn Regehr watch.
The RR watch is what I'd like to focus on.
If you'd ask me what was the moment in which I thought things were going to turn for the better for the franchise, it would have been when they acquired the D-man from Calgary.
People always hold Pegula Day to the highest of esteems, especially since Pegula cried and said the goal of existing was to win the Stanley Cup. However, almost every owner in sports will use heroic tongues when it comes to winning. Larry Quinn use to always say they wanted to win multiple cups. Russ Brandon does an incredible job of BSing the public.
However, for me, I follow actions..not words...And convincing Robyn to come here was suppose to be that first step.
To reset, the Sabres had a deal in place for Regehr, Kotalik and a 2nd rounder in exchange for Paul Byron and Chris Butler.
There was just one problem: Robyn Regehr wasn't too keen on coming here.
So what did the Sabres do? Their brain-trust got on a plane and headed to the hometown of Bret Hart to convince the assistant captain why Buffalo is hockey heaven.
For the next 24-hours, it became the Robyn watch. It really became a spin off of the Mario Williams watch mixed in with the following of OJ Simpson in the white van. Would there be blue or black smoke coming out of the F'N Center?
It was a wild ride in which at some points, you felt if Regehr said no to Buffalo, it would be yet another #becauseitsbuffalo moment of someone not liking us and us resembling the poor girl who no one wanted to dance with at prom. At other points, you saw glimmers of hope that the deal was going to go down. If we traded for him, it was a sure sign the Sabres didn't have the recruiting issues we always heard about.
Then rumors broke that he didn't want to come here. SIGH! "No one wants to come to Buffalo!! WE ARE TERRIBLE." However, a few hours later, 24 did a 180 and decided to come here. Hooray!
Even though most fans in Buffalo probably never watched too many Calgary games, the trade was a part of a large domino effect signifying that the Sabres were serious about winning. For the next month or so, they spent a ton of money on Leino, Ehrhoff, Myers, Stafford and a few others. The sky was the limit and the thought of the Sabres trotting out the Stanley Cup on home ice started to dance in our heads.
Alas, since the summer of 2011, it has been a fricken tire fire of hockey hell for us. Everything we thought was going to happen for the good of it became nothing more than a bunch of #becauseitsbuffalo moments.
Not only did the team not meet expectations, but neither did Robyn Regehr. Maybe I don't study the game as well as I should, but I really couldn't tell you 5 key plays or key games the guy flourished in while he was here. I know, you aren't suppose to notice stay-at-home D-men, but the bottom line was the Sabres defense got worse. I also saw moments in which he looked pretty slow when he was backpedaling against a winger racing down the ice.
Frankly, Regehr never got much of the venom from the fan base when the defense was at its worse. Most of it went to Myers, which is totally understandable. However, because Regehr was the type of D-man we relish: Tough, gritty, a leader, and a hitter, we turned a blind eye on his play.
Maybe we were too consumed by the idea of his deal changing the culture here, not to mention his traits as a player being right up the alley of what Buffalo fans love. It could have also been about us trading for a known player and how we gravitate to named people like David Hasseloff being adored in Germany. Of course, it could be that there were bigger fish to fry during his 105 games here.
I don't know.
I just felt a little underwhelmed by his play here and that the trade was waaayyy more exciting than his play. A majority of fans look at this trade with LA as being a sign of rebuilding and hope those 2nd round draft picks pay us dividends in 2016 or whenever prospects hatch from their eggs.
However, I'm still thinking back to the summer of 2011.
It was the summer of hockey love started by the Sabres convincing Regehr to come here and at the same time convincing us things were changing for the better.
Almost 22 months later, we've changed alright and it hasn't been for the better.