With the Buffalo Sabres wallowing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, no one in the organization is above scrutiny, team president Ted Black insisted Friday during an interview at The Buffalo News.
Speaking with News sports columnist Bucky Gleason on “The Bucky & Sully Show” at Buffalo-news.com, Black said both he and owner Terry Pegula are showing patience but would not pinpoint if the team needs a roster shake-up or a change at the top. General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff are both in their 16th year and coming under increasing fire from fans and media.
“It’s probably a little bit of everything in terms of everyone needing to do their jobs better,” Black said. “I think Steve Ott said after the last game, ‘We need to look in the mirror.’ I don’t need to put that on the players. I think all of us need to do that. Good is not good enough. Darcy has had some very good moves that we’ve looked at and said, ‘Boy that’s a great move.’ On ice, it hasn’t translated. When we win, everything is going to look very easy. ... But when you’re losing, no one escapes scrutiny.”
Regier received a contract extension from Pegula that was announced last month on the day before the season opener. The deal has received growing derision from fans and media in the wake of the team’s troubles.
“The extension that Darcy got is more of an affirmation that we trust the job he’s doing right now,” Black said. “It’s not in perpetuity. It’s not a perpetual contract. It’s more of a ‘We want you to continue to work hard at your job without something being a distraction to you for one, and for two, to show we have our full faith in you to do your job. Go out and do it as best as you possibly can.’ ”
Black said Regier has Pegula’s backing to change the roster.
“The paradigm has shifted,” Black said. “If there’s an opportunity to improve our team with a player transaction, Darcy has free reign to do that. It takes two to tango. I really wish we could pull back the curtain and let everyone know the types of transactions we’re trying to make. ... That shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of will or a lack of effort.”
Black would not directly respond to a question about the possibility of replacing Ruff.
“I support our coach,” Black said before admitting “everyone has one” when asked if there’s a breaking point. “But at what point do you give up on Joe Smith the player? I believe that should not be a public answer.”
Black said the organizational mandate is to make the playoffs every year, something the team has failed to do in six of the last 10 years.
“Looking forward and saying, ‘We’re going to miss the playoffs so many times in the next 10 years’ makes me want to vomit,” Black said. “Our goal needs to be we make the playoffs every year.
“Darcy is encouraged to make mistakes. If [injured winger] Ville Leino turns out to be a mistake, no one’s head is going to get chopped off for it. ... We’ll say, ‘Try harder, reach higher.’ That is a winning culture.”
The Bucky & Sully Show airs at 10 a.m. every Friday at Buffalonews.com. The video archive of Friday’s 18-minute session with Black is available at the website on the Sabres Edge blog.