It took a while for the Buffalo Sabres to learn how to be a have rather than a have-not.
After years of being forced to be resourceful and get by with less, the acquisition of the team by billionaire Terry Pegula last summer and subsequent increase in the team’s payroll to the very heights of the NHL changed many things in Buffalo, some not for the better.
“I would characterize that as a learning process,” said Sabres GM Darcy Regier, carefully choosing his words. “And we’re still learning.”
Regier suggests that all the money spent last off-season, including a massive chunk on big-money free-agent signings Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino, altered the “dynamic” of the Sabres organization and contributed to the club’s dreadful play in October, November and December. Regier had never had the kinds of funds available to him that Pegula made available, and he soon realized that adding big contracts can injure or at least alter the harmony of a dressing room.
“We’ve had what I call a burn-in period, a process of players getting comfortable,” he said. “But do I like it better this way? Oh yeah, I do.”
Regier was reluctant to even discuss his team’s improved fortunes, noting that 86 points isn’t enough to guarantee a playoff berth and “when you’re trying to win a championship it isn’t right to talk about these things.”
Getting used to having money helped get the Sabres where they are. But no amount of money at this time of the year can keep them there if they don’t earn it.
I loved the Ehrhoff signing and still have no problem with it to this day. A $4 million cap hit for what he brings is a steal. Leino is a different story. I tried to convince myself that the signing would be ok, but to this point he's been a disappointment(obviously). I think the Sabres counted on him having at least 50 points this year.