I can't sleep so you guys are getting a half-assed, meandering post while I wait for the sleep medication to kick in. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Botched talks will again cost Sabres
I don't disagree with the basic gist of the column - Tom Golisano is in it to make a profit and isn't as interested as winning a championship as the fans are - but I do disagree that the Brian Campbell negotiations are a direct result of the bungled Chris Drury and Daniel Briere negotiations. The only thing they have in common is that they all involve popular free agents. From what we've heard, I just don't see that talks have stalled because management is twiddling its thumbs or being cheap or because Campbell is questioning where the franchise is going. It looks very much to me like two sides disagreeing on the value of the player involved. Campbell and his agent are rightfully looking to get a good market price. The Sabres are balking. Maybe the hockey people are trying to make a deal and Golisano is squashing it. But maybe - maybe! - the hockey people are questioning whether Brian Campbell is worth that much of the cap. I hate to beat a dead-horse but what the heck, everyone else is doing it. In my opinion, the Sabres are absolutely right to be questioning whether Campbell is the best use of six million dollars especially with other important players due for a raise in the next couple of seasons. Campbell is a good hockey player and on the right team in the right situation, he can certainly make a difference. But he's not a game-changer by himself. He's just not. I suppose it's possible that all the columnists at the News disagree with me but I'd love for one of them to mention the possibility that Campbell is overpriced instead of stirring up the crazies with LOOK OUT ANOTHER PLAYER YOU LOVE IS LEAVING BECAUSE MANAGEMENT BLOWS AND ISN'T BEING A SABRES FAN LIKE BEARING THE BURDENS OF ALL HUMANITY WHY DO YOU EVEN BOTHER.
I think Ryan Miller is the test. From comments Darcy Regier has made in the past it sure sounds like the Sabres intend to start talking to Ryan as soon as they can and despite his up and down season, I think they're going to make him a very good offer. It seems like he's really a guy they plan on building the team around for the next handful or so of years. If Ryan halts negotiations and/or walks away from a good offer, then I think you might have a case for arguing that previous negotiations are having a negative effect or that players are questioning what's going on around them.
I appreciate that its part of the local paper's job to question management - really, I do. It certainly sounds like there is some conflict between what the hockey people want and what the money men are willing to do and that's unfortunate, especially since I think there are some pretty smart hockey people in the organization. And let's face it, Tom Golisano swooped in like a white knight, buying the team when a lot of people were starting to worry that it was going to end up moving out of Buffalo. I'm sure many fans will have a hard time putting that aside and looking at him critically. But all negotiations are not interchangeable and it really bothers me that people are lumping them all together. Campbell's contract situation is different from Drury's and Briere's just like Drury's and Briere's were different from Mike Grier's and JP Dumont's. Some of them were arguably management's fault, some of them involved circumstances beyond management's control. Isn't it also part of the local paper's job to point out that kind of thing? During the first intermission of the Rangers game, Mike Robitaille pointed out that there is a salary cap to be considered - something I haven't seen mentioned in the paper anywhere in conjunction with Brian Campbell - and that once money is spent, it's spent and that that means thinking and being careful instead of throwing money around "like a drunken sailor." (God bless you, Robi!) I know Robi is employed by the Sabres (maybe?) and no one who writes for TBN is, but he's right that team budgets, salary caps, and prioritizing the players on the roster are all part of running a hockey team. The fact that, in my opinion, TBN consistently ignores that and repeatedly makes it sound like keeping a team together is as easy as showing every player where to sign on the contract drives me crazy. It drives me crazy! I don't want them to bow to management and I do want them to point out mistakes... but I also wouldn't mind a little acknowledgement that running a hockey team involves a lot of hard work and making it successful is even harder.
I guess my main problem with TBN's columnists as a whole is that they're very much the same. I think it's fun to read one guy saying one thing ("The Ice Bowl was awesome!") and then read another guying saying the exact opposite ("The Ice Bowl was lame!"), but that doesn't happen very often. They almost always all beat the same drum. Don't get me wrong, I don't want guys taking stances on things just because they think that's what will get the most reaction. I hate that. I hate when it's clear that a guy is arguing something even though it's a) ridiculous and b) clearly not something they really believe. I think that's ruined half the shows on ESPN. I just wish there was a little more variety from day to day.
Basically I want Bob DiCesare's job. Can that be arranged? I'm pretty sure Bucky and I would often be taking opposing viewpoints.
And now for something completely different because I'm tired of talking about the Sabres. Back at the beginning of the season, when recapping the first couple of games, I mentioned that Mike Comrie was on the top of my That Guy List, That Guy being short for "If someone has to beat us, just don't let it be that guy." Because you've all been clamoring for it (oh, stop, I know you have!) here's a more complete list:
IF SOMEONE HAS TO BEAT US, PLEASE GOD, DON'T LET IT BE THAT GUY
Mike Comrie, New York Islanders - There's no real reason that I hate Mike Comrie. I just do. He's whiny. He never seems to stick with one team for very long but he's always lurking around somewhere, refusing to just go away. He always has a smug expression on that little face and I just want to punch him.
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators - I used to really like Alfredsson but boy, once he landed on this list he just cruised right on up to the top. I admit, my dislike is largely based on his boarding of Henrik Tallinder during the playoffs last year along with his postgame assertions that Hank was just faking and looking for a call. Is it slightly irrational to hold that kind of thing against a player forever? Maybe. But hey, sometimes being a sports fan is about complete irrationality! There was also the puck shot at Scott Niedermayer after the end of the period in the finals last year along with the cheapshot punch in the scrum that followed. And finally there's the constant, never-ending droning about the magic and wonder of the Spezza-Alfredsson-Heatley line. Yes, they're very good. I get it!
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators - I'm partly annoyed by all the hype around him even though much of it is deserved. But there's also something I can't place my finger on about him that bugs me.
Ray Emery, Ottawa Senators - I swear he's the last Senator. I hate Ray Emery. He's a punk and he's NOT GOOD. (Note to Sens fans: You can tell me Ray is actually good. I will refuse to believe you.) I hate when we lose to him because it almost always means the Sabres just flat refused to shoot on the net at all. I HATE THAT.
Chris Drury, New York Rangers and Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers - I like both of these guys enough that they'll probably drop off the list with time. But for now, I'd like to be spared all the overly sarcastic, "Gee, too bad we don't have HIM on OUR team anymore!" talk.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes - I'm beginning to see why I've never written a complete list before. Reading "I just don't like him" over and over isn't very enlightening, is it? Well, I just don't like him. And it cuts me deep every time I hear someone say how cute he is because dude, he's SO not cute. He looks like a serial killer.
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning - Yeah, I don't know. Usually I like those pesky little guys, but I've never warmed up to him.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers - His piss-poor first half single-handedly killed my fantasy team last season. He was also was kind enough to cut the Rangers a little bit of slack on his salary for this season to help keep them under the cap. That would be admirable if it weren't for the fact that a) the team was so stupid with its money that I still can't believe it and b) it's the RANGERS! And he has a stupid haircut.
On the flip side we have, WELL, IF WE HAD TO LOSE, ATLEAST IT WAS THAT GUY WHO BEAT US
Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators - I don't know why Heater escapes the wrath I have for the rest of his linemates but he does. I love him. He's a total Sabres killer and I love him. He just pops up out of nowhere at the worst times and strikes. I love him.
Mike Fisher, Ottawa Senators - Chances are good that if Fish got a goal on us, he worked his ass off to get it. I can dig that. Also a good Christian boy which I can dig as well. Hey, us goody-two shoes have to stick together.
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning - I've loved watching Vinny finally put it all together the last few years. I'm amazed at how, on certain nights, he can just take over an entire game, imposing his will on everyone on the ice.
Marty Brodeur, New Jersey Devils - I know, I know. The Devils are boring and they've killed hockey as we know it. I really, really like to watch Marty though and I get a kick out of him off the ice too.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins - If you're gonna get beat, get beat by the best. I wish the NHL would turn the hype machine down a few hundred notches, but geez, he's really good.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks - This doesn't apply much anymore since we hardly ever play the Sharks, but I adore Joe. He's probably my favorite non-Sabre in the league right now. If Mark happens to die young - not that I'm hoping for that by any means - I plan on moving to San Jose and marrying Joe.
Seriously, how do you not love this guy?
And just to top things off, GUYS MUCH OF BUFFALO HATES WHO I'M PRETTY NEUTRAL ON
Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes - I didn't enjoy him celebrating the Canes Conference Finals victory over us by whining about Lindy Ruff's behavior, but I don't know, I kinda like ol' bird nose. I'd take him, you know? (Totally didn't deserve last year's Selke though.)
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Captials - We're still booing him, huh? Hey, knock yourselves out.
Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings - Dom's time in Buffalo was starting to wrap up by the time I moved here so I missed a lot of the drama surrounding him, but I'll admit, it makes me a little sad how vicious Buffalo fans are about him even now. Seems like the guy carried the team for a lot of years. That's not worth a little love?
Wow, this is really, really long. Sorry, dudes. If you made it this far, well, I applaud you.