Thursday, June 14, 2007

Regier and Ruff are back - Reporting from the Sabres press conference

I got down to HSBC Arena this morning to take part in the news conference where Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier were formally designated as the returning Head Coach and General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres. For Ruff it is a three year contract with an option for a fourth, whle Regier gets a two year deal. 'We got these guys for substantially below what they would earn in the open market" said Managing Partner Larry Quinn, while not revealing the specific dollar amounts of the deals.

Both men admitted that leaving Buffalo was never really an option or a consideration. Quinn stated that discussions on a new deal had taken place before the season ended, and everyone needed time to decompress after the disappointing finish to the year. Said Ruff, "Buffalo has become one of the best hockey cities. It's a great place to play; It's a great place to coach."

Of course, the questions turned towards the signing of the teams' marquee players, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, as well as speculation over the status of restricted free agent Thomas Vanek. Quinn stated that the team budget next year will be higher than this year's. Regier also indicated that inquiries have been made to both co-captains through their agents, but admitted that if these discussions go beyond July 1, they will most likely be gone. As for Vanek, Regier offered some reassuring words. "I'm not a believer in operating out of fear. We'll be fine with Thomas at the end of the day."

A number of media members pressed the trio on the team's negotiating policy, and Quinn was quick to defend their approach. 'We've evolved with our contract policy. We used to work under one year contracts. When you do this negotiating during the course of a season, you subtract elsewhere on the team and everybody on the team knows it." Talking to some of the reporters afterwards, most of us saw this line as a bunch of hoo-ey and weren't buying it.

Quinn also stressed this point and asked us to report it. "We are offering mini packs!" Quinn stated that the team's season ticket base of just under 15,000 remains intact, the Sabres will offer mini packs and variable pricing on games, and recommended that fans wishing to attend games consider mini packs, warning that "we speculate that there will be few single seats available once tickets go on sale." Quinn also said there would be a slight price increase for single ticket costs. The Sabres had previously announced an 8% increase on average for season tickets.

One parting comment --- guess which moron forgot to turn his cell phone on to vibrate? Sure enough, my pocket goes off, and rings and rings... prompting Darcy to comment on the noise and jokingly suggest a $50 fine for the infraction. I slunk in my chair, tried not to call attention to myself, but those sitting around me, including Jim Fink from Business First and Janet Schultz from WNY Hockey...had me pegged. I was busted!


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