Kevin already made part of my point over at Bfloblog but I promise I didn't realize that until just now. I wrote this entry on paper first since it's kind of tedious to sit at the computer for too long so I'm going to pretend we had the same thought at the same time. Okay, here goes...
I read Bucky Gleason's column today about the Brian Campbell contract negotiations with some interest. Don't worry, I'm not going to attack Bucky too hard. He makes some good points and it's nice to hear a player be somewhat candid about what he wants. But lost in the "Brian Campbell wants to be a Sabre for life!" rah-rah-rah is this: Maybe the Sabres don't feel like Brian Campbell is worth the numbers currently being discussed.
One of the tough parts of having a young team is that the players aren't going to stay as inexpensive as they are right now forever, particularly with the way the market has exploded in terms of money and years. At some point some hard choices are going to have to be made. Maybe the Sabres looked around at upcoming contracts and RFAs and decided Campbell was the one they could cut, the one they could replace. Maybe they're not being lazy and stupid but careful and thoughtful.
I'm not saying that's what's happening and I'm not even saying I'd agree with it if that is what's happening although overpaying Campbell for five plus years does make me a little nervous. But it's a possibility, one that's not particularly far-fetched, and it's not even mentioned. I find the Buffalo News stance on management vs. players and agents - management is dumb, unfeeling, and probably deceitful, players are agents are upfront, fair, and honest - bizarre. If I'm not going to take what Darcy Regier says at face value, why am I going to take what everyone on the other side of the negotiations says at face value? If I'm going to assume that Regier and Larry Quinn are twisting what they're saying to make themselves look as good as possible, why wouldn't I assume that players and agents - particularly agents for cryin' out loud! - are presenting rose-colored versions of events too?
While we're here, let's lose the idea that Campbell and Jaroslav Spacek have become the number one pairing on the defensive side. Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman have struggled and I have no problem with Lindy Ruff and the Buffalo News calling them out. They could be and should be playing much better. But while Campbell and Spacek are playing increased ice-time, they're still not pulling a lot of time against top lines. According to Behind the Net (the very best hockey stat site on the internet), Tallinder and Lydman are still pretty far ahead of Campbell and Spacek in quality of competition. Despite their inconsistency, they're still on the ice against the opposition's most talented players more often than not. I think Brian Campbell is a little less of a mess than some fans say, but let's not get crazy. He's not going to be stopping Ovechkin, Crosby, or Heatley any time soon. Also, leading the entire team in Goals Against while on the ice? Brian Campbell.
Update: I was having a bit of a break-down during my last entry but I've been in better spirits the last couple of days. We jimmy-rigged something that kind of sort of lets me take a shower and wash my hair and it's amazing how much that helped my spirits. Also, a laptop has been ordered. We were talking about that before you guys suggested it in the comments but post-holidays isn't the best time to make a high-end purchase like that. But I think you all guilted Mark into throwing caution to the wind. So thanks!