By Allan Muir
Jason Pominville got while the gettin’ was good.
At least, that seems to be the way Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller are looking at the deal that sent their captain to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, leaving them to bail water for the final 11 games of the season in Buffalo.
John Vogl of the Buffalo News wrote this afternoon that the two stars plan to speak with Sabres GM Darcy Regier about his plans for the franchise moving forward.
That doesn’t sound like code for, “We’re so thrilled to be part of this that we can’t wait to sign long-term extensions.”
Both players were diplomatic, but blunt about their futures.
“You just regroup and figure out what the plan is moving forward, if you’re part of it or not,” Miller said after practice this morning. “I have to talk to Darcy…about what his plan is and how I’m going to fit into it or what’s going on. I don’t know if we’ll have a chance to talk about it till after the season.”
Vanek made it clear earlier this week that he wasn’t all that interested in spending the next couple of years babysitting. It doesn’t sound like he feels any more comfortable with the idea after yesterday’s deal.
“No one has let me know what direction this is heading. We’ll finish the year out and …I would expect them to let me know what the future is with myself.”
Both Vanek and Miller have contracts that expire after the 2013-14 season, so they’re eligible to sign extensions this summer. Or not. And even though the Pominville trade should help them figure out which way the wind is blowing, you can understand them wanting to hear it directly from the boss.
But it may not be Regier who lays out a vision of them playing kindergarten cops for the league’s youngest team.
Although Regier was allowed to make a trio of trades this week, there is speculation that he will be replaced during the off-season. Or, at least, he ought to be. There’s also the matter of the interim nature of coach Ron Rolston’s job. If owner Terry Pegula hopes to keep either player, he needs to establish the stability of both the front office and the coaching staff first.
Even that may not be enough. If they don’t like things now, they won’t like them any better come the fall.
Any talks with management then are likely to set the wheels in motion to move them down the road. If Regier — or whoever is calling the shots — is smart, he’ll address both situations quickly to maximize the return. That means before the draft.
It won’t be easy, but if they’re committed to rebuilding, they need to do it right.