There are many reasons general managers and coaches decide to move or obtain players, as Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier knows. Regier, like a number of NHL GMs, has the experience of being told by a GM or coach that it was time to move on as a player. Regier was traded Jan. 10, 1978, from the Cleveland Barons to the New York Islanders.
Regier never joined the Islanders. General Manager Bill Torrey sent him down to the Central Hockey League's Fort Worth Texans, yet going to the Islanders changed his career in a very positive way, although it also signaled the virtual end of his NHL days.
Regier had played 15 games with the Barons, but Torrey saw something in him, and eventually the "throw-in" player would carve out a fine NHL career, although it would not be as a player. Regier did not put on an Islanders jersey until 1982-83 and only played 11 games with the team.
Torrey had traded for a future minor-league coach, and NHL assistant coach, assistant general manager and general manager, although Regier, then just 21, didn’t know it at the time.
"I owe an awful lot to that man (Torrey) for my career," said Regier. "And he was kind enough to refer to me as being a very efficient player, which I laughed about, and said I would prefer effective but I'll take it."
Regier was drafted by the California Golden Seals in the fifth round (No. 77) of the 1976 Entry Draft. Regier played with the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Canadian Hockey League, and then played his first professional season with the Central League's Salt Lake City Golden Eagles. In his second season, he made the Barons.
Regier offered an assessment of his abilities, which gave some insight on how he looks at players.
"I would be like a lot of these other guys," Regier said. "So much of the National Hockey League is made up of first-round picks, the higher-skill guys, and I was one of these middling guys."
Regier got his opportunity with a bad Barons team, and enjoyed his time there as a young player heading to his first NHL camp.
"(The Barons) were the old Golden Seals," said Regier. "I was drafted by the Golden Seals but never went to the camp there; they became the Barons. Gary Simmons was there at that training camp (1976). He had snakeskin cowboy (boots) and I still was coming from Canada and so I walked in there, all excited because I used to cheer for the (Canadian Football League) Saskatchewan Roughriders and it was like I had three heads when I brought up the CFL and those guys were all deep into the NFL.
"Cleveland was a good place for me because it wasn't a very good team and it was the only way I was going to get some NHL games. For me it was the best. I can remember Tex Evans was a scary coach and I can remember playing with Jimmy Neilson and Jimmy was kind of my partner and he was supposed to take care of me because I was like 19 or 20 years old."
Cleveland lasted just two NHL seasons, although Regier has fond memories of the team and the Barons' arena, the Richfield Coliseum, which was located between Cleveland and Akron. But Regier sounds more like a GM than a player when reminiscing about the old building.
"Nobody did show up," Regier said. "It was a beautiful rink. You know it was one of the first modern-day rinks where you had the restaurant and stuff like that."
"It wasn't the hockey I benefited from in the trade to the Islanders," said Regier. "I got to be associated with Bill Torrey and Al Arbour. I think for whatever success I have had, those two men have been tremendous for me."
After Regier retired in 1984, Torrey hired him to coach the International Hockey League's Indianapolis Checkers, and he stayed with Torrey until 1991, when he became an assistant coach with the Hartford Whalers. He returned to Long Island to serve as an assistant to Islanders GM Don Maloney, and took over as the Islanders' GM in 1995-96 after Maloney was fired. Regier was hired as the Buffalo GM in 1997. His teams have been very successful over the years and he has made some good trades and drafted a number of highly skilled players.