Regier gets back in game as Coyotes assistant GM

The Coyotes on Thursday hired former Sabres general manager Darcy Regier to a multi-year deal as assistant vice president and assistant GM.

In a long-expected move — one that FOX Sports Arizona first reported two months ago — the Coyotes on Thursday finally signed former Sabres general manager Darcy Regier to a multi-year deal as assistant vice president and assistant GM.

Regier replaces Brad Treliving, who was hired as Calgary’s GM in April.

"I think it’s an ideal situation for me," Regier said. "Every organization has its challenges, but we expect to succeed. Now it’s just about doing the work." 

Coyotes GM Don Maloney said Thursday that Regier is the only guy he has truly been targeting. That is no surprise. 

Regier, 58, has ties to Maloney from their days in the Islanders organization. Maloney first met Regier at the end of Maloney’s playing career with the Islanders in 1989. Maloney was also New York’s GM from 1992-95. Regier was the Islanders’ assistant GM for part of that time, and served as interim GM when Maloney was fired during the 1995-96 season.

Regier also served as director of hockey administration for the Islanders and supervised the club’s amateur development; roles he will reprise with the Coyotes in addition to taking on the myriad duties Treliving filled from scouting and player evaluations to staffing.

The hire is another example of the Coyotes’ recent beefing up of their hockey operations department. Maloney asked for and was given an increase in his scouting budget recently, the team hopes to start using analytics more (although coach Dave Tippett keeps his own anyway), and now they have a man with vast managerial experience in the NHL.

"We’re really dedicating more resources to a lot of these areas, focusing on players’ development, and we’re appreciative of ownership for giving us those resources," Maloney said. "From the time players get drafted to the time they turn pro, we think there’s been a gap in development where we need do a better job."

Regier was Buffalo’s GM from 1997 to 2013. He and coach Ron Rolston were fired last November when Buffalo got off to a 4-15-1 start, the worst start in franchise history and just short of tying the NHL record. In that lengthy span, Maloney said Regier experienced just about everything a GM can experience.

"He’s gone through the entire spectrum from bankruptcy and working with nothing to the opposite end where he’s had every resource available to build a team," Maloney said. "It’s invaluable. How do you find that level of experience? Where do you find that kind of range without a guy getting fired three times?"

Maloney wanted to make the hire before now, but Regier still had contractual ties to the Sabres and a trip planned to Paris so they waited until the fiscal year had ended. That extra time served Regier well.

"When I was fired in Buffalo I had to make sure it was still a passion and not a habit. I needed to take enough time to find that out," said Regier who, along with his wife, spent a month in Paris visiting his son, his son’s wife and their 1-year old daughter. "As time passed, I kept getting drawn back to watch more games and become more involved in what was happening. The last few weeks, I really felt energized.

"It’s time now. I want to get back in and this is a great opportunity to get back in."

Under Regier, the Sabres advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999 and made four Eastern Conference Final appearances (1998, 1999, 2006 and 2007).

While with the Sabres, Regier oversaw all aspects of Buffalo’s hockey operations, as well as the Rochester Americans, its AHL affiliate. Among the players Regier drafted as GM are Ryan Miller (1998), Derek Roy (2001), Jason Pominville (2001), Keith Ballard (2002), Thomas Vanek (2003), Drew Stafford (2004), Jhonas Enroth (2006), Tyler Ennis (2008), Tyler Myers (2008), Zack Kassian (2009), Mikhail Grigorenko (2012) and Zemgus Girgensons (2012).

"You have to build through the draft," Regier said. "You can become involved in free agency but free agency is to add pieces after your team is established."

Like Maloney, Regier believes his vast experience will help the Coyotes infuse some fresh ideas and help guide the youth movement that is now underway with the departure of several veteran free agents including Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris, David Moss and Jeff Halpern. 

"There’s a fine line between putting more youth in your lineup and making sure it’s ready to play vs. being respectful toward the veterans on the team and recognizing they want to win," Regier said. "You really have to balance all that."

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter