An attempt to be humorous and logical about the Buffalo Sports Scene.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dealing with "The System"

The key to the System.

The current post at The Gooses Roost, about the system, inspired me to write my own take on the system.

We all think the System is some random scheme the Sabres talk about. But its not there is a total organization philosophy, that the team is built around. And its been in place since the Regier Ruff era took over.

Build from the Goal Out.

When they got here, there was a rough and tumble mentality that was influenced by Ted Nolan and the crumbling of the Muckler era. Nolan and Hasek didn't get along, and Hasek being the true star of the team, got his way, with Nolan getting the heave ho, when Regier was hired. They knew they had a great goalie and they could build the team around him. Go through hockeydb from the late 90's for the leading scorers, its shocking how low they are.

97-98 Miroslav Satan with 46 points!
98-99 Miroslav Satan with 66 points and and only 2 others with 50.
99-00 Miroslav Satan with 67 points and only Curtis Brown had about 50
00-01 Miroslav Satan with 62 Points and JP Dumont with 51

Then Hasek left. And the Bankruptcy. And they missed the Playoffs for 3 straight years. Yet Miro, had higher point totals and in 03-04 the Sabres 5 guys in 50 or more points, the first time in 10 years! When Dale Hawerchuk was in the lineup.

They had the higher scoring player, but since their goalie left, the system fell apart. Steps in Ryan Miller.

Ryan Miller wasn't as elite level yet, so they tweeked the system, to be more offensive to cover up that Miller wasn't at the level they needed to work the system. But come playoff time, that comes back to bite you. The scoring goes down, and the defensive lapses kill you, plus injuries. The Presidents Trophy year, they had 6 guys above 60 points. Max had 61 points in only 56 games. Not since the French Connection hey days did the Sabres have that offensive firepower. And just like then, they couldn't get the job done.

Then the summer of '07 hit.

The loss of all that offense took its toll. They had two guys with 80 points, but that's not good enough when Miller has a 2.64 Sv%.

They needed to get back to "The System", but Miller had to get better.

Next year Miller's numbers got better, offense went down a little, but when Miller got hurt things fell apart again.

We get to this year, and Miller turns into Hasek.

2009-2010 Miller Sv% of .929 and GAA of 2.22
1996-1997 Hasek Sv% of .930 and GAA of 2.27

Yes I know Haseks numbers in the Hart years, were eye popping, but he was in his prime. Miller is entering his prime. Trying to get a a similar spot in their careers.

With Miller entering his prime, this is the time for the system to really work. But it needs tweeks. I don't feel a overhaul of the management will do much good. The prospects all kinda fit the mold of what the team will be in 2 years. Guys like Ennis, Gerbe, Adam and Kassian. You put in new people, those prospects are probably shipped out for vets the new administration wants. And who knows how that works, and the drawer is bare again, after years of stocking it up again. People forget how bare things were in the minors after the Bankruptcy. Now the Sabres seemed to filled with nice new acquisitions.

Here come some of my suggestions.


Derek Roy reminds me of another frustrating Derek, Plante. Leading scorer, but never seems to produce when you want. Derek Roy has value and I think could be traded for a nice veteran. Or packaged with a Tim Connolly and other players or picks. For my target.

Jarome Iginla.

Yes I know why would the Flames want to get rid of him. But he is the exact player the Sabres need. Talented, tough, a leader. And by packaging the right young talent, offense to replace what they are losing. Maybe you could convince Calgary to trade him.

Of course, this leaves a hole at Center. And if that trade doesn't pan out, which it probably won't. Sure people might say Vincent Lecavalier. But his contract is such a non starting point, I wouldn't even entertain the idea. Martin St Louis would be interesting, I wonder if a Roy for St Louis straight up deal could happen. He is in the last year of his deal at only 4 million. Had 90 points. And with Vanek and Connelly, could lead to a very dangerous number 1 line.

Joe Thornton? He of terrible playoffs and what not. I'd rather they do something interesting like put in a offer for Pavelski or maybe a Nicklas Backstrom. But both the Sharks and Caps are very under the Cap next year, that its not even worth going after.

The trouble is, it might be impossible to really go after a big time center, without really damaging you team in the long run. Which means you fall into the hope your young guys pan out cycle. And Darcy will not sacrifice the future for anything.

Doug Weight might be a nice option.

But as we have seen, attracting free agents to Buffalo is hard to do. That's why any real major acquisition will be in the trade market, lucky for Buffalo they have some assets. And plenty of teams who would love to dump some salary.

Keeping Grier is essential. The guy is solid and can contribute. Other then that, Kennedy and Kaleta get offers. I can live without Mair, Ellis and McCormick. If I could choose, I'd bring back McCormick.

Drew Stafford. I am done with him, I have been done with him. And Lindy Ruff is done with him. He is the new version of Chris Gratton. Lots of potential, but nothing substantial. The upside, you could fool someone in giving you a nice player for this "potential".

Young guys. We all love Ennis. Gerbe looks to finally have reached NHL level. Luke Adam could crack the lineup, and the wild card of Zach Kassian. He is having a excellent playoffs for the Spitfires and is the big physical force the Sabres need. Though another year in Juniors probably won't hurt.


Tyler Myers sure helps things here. He has solved a bunch of issues on the backend, the Sabres have never had this type of guy since Regier and Ruff have been here. He makes me happy and want to buy a new sabres white 57 jersey.

Henrik Tallinder has had a nice year, since, wait oh his last contract year. Mmmm. Was pretty decent in the playoffs. If he's not too expensive, resign for another 3 years and build this partnership up.

Toni Lydman, was Toni Lydman. I could see a resign, but if they wanted to look else where for a more nasty defensemen. That would be ok.

We assume Mike Weber makes the team next year, but Butler, Sekera and Weber, don't make me that happy. That's why they need another defenseman. I would love Anton Volchenkov, he wants 5 for 25, and that's probably too rich for Darcy. Andy Sutton, maybe more in the price range. He's nasty, he's dirty. We'd love him.

No I'm not an expert either. He looks like he could kill someone.

I'd rather add another vet, then just bringing up Weber. Make Weber, Butler and Sekera fight for spots.


Starter is set, now we gotta sign a quality backup. Hate to say it, but Marty Biron makes too much sense here.

Solid, plays well with a decent defense, and wouldn't be expensive. It makes too much sense and still would be surprised if it happened.


"The System" is not some marketing thing, the Sabres use to sell tickets or hope. Its an actual playing style, and its a start from the Goalie out system. Detroit has a different system. Pittsburgh another. Which one works best? Well it depends on the players. Pittsburgh has all star forwards, ok defense and a decent goalie. The best thing about having an established system. Is you can tweek it, to make it better. The Sabres have some very nice parts, but need a replacement here and a replacement there, to be one of the top 8 teams.

While the newspaper guys call for heads (while they wait for their buyouts) and the callers on the radio rail against everyone without thinking. The brass at HSBC Arena will plan on how to improve the team, and thus improve "the system."

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Buffalo, NY, United States
A Stay at home dad, who has more hot takes then your average stay at home dad.