Sunday, January 6, 2008

They're Eating Ice-Cream in Hell Today

I was slowly awaking late this morning - okay, it might have been after noon - when Mark sat down on the end of the bed. "Psssst," he said, "You awake?" I thought I was until I heard what he said next. "You should read Bucky Gleason today. He said nice things about Darcy Regier." Surely I was still dreaming! My brain couldn't compute this! Had hell frozen over? Were pigs flying outside my bedroom window? How to explain his miraculous turn of events? Mark hasn't made a habit of lying to me but surely he was yanking my chain!

But no, he was was right. Bucky Gleason said nice things about Darcy Regier. Don't get me wrong, Bucky does manage to pass the blame along to someone else (Tom Golisano), but in the process he says Darcy is intelligent, professional, liked and respected around the league, and a good guy who more often than not, makes the right call when it comes to players. Well-done, Bucky. I'm proud of you!

One smallish criticism:

Bucky does, once again, harp on the Brian Campbell situation. He says that Campbell's agent made a pitch for 5 million for 5 years before the season that was rejected and still never touches the idea that maybe the Sabres just don't see that as a good deal. I understand what he's saying about Campbell's value on the open market. I have no doubt that if it gets to that point someone will offer him between 6 and 7 million dollars but I also know that team is going to be overpaying for what they'll get. Even 5 makes me nervous because while Soupy is very good at certain aspects of the game - carrying the puck, getting involved in the offense - he's not a good defensive player. He's not a terrible defensive player (usually) but he's not a good one and I don't know, I think that should come into play since he is a defenseman. Bucky also continues to ignore the fact that there's a salary cap in play here. If the Sabres give Campbell between 5 and 6 million, they have a lot of money wrapped up in three players (Vanek, Roy, and Campbell) and that's before Ryan Miller - who does deserve a big, fat deal - is re-signed. Again, you don't have to agree that Campbell is the one who should be tossed over to make room for everyone else, but maybe we could atleast address all the issues surrounding a large contract.

But all that said, it was nice to see something a little different from Bucky.

Also - and this isn't directed at Bucky so much as a general statment - I think it's time we started blaming the players atleast a little bit for how this season is going. I'm not going to argue that there aren't pieces missing or pieces that don't fit, but this team still has plenty of talent. They may not be a clear Cup contender but they should be in the playoff easy and they should be able to make some noise once they get there. Instead they're just floundering and a lot of nights it's because of a lack of effort over sixty minutes. If this team was busting its ass and still losing, maybe I could get more behind the idea of blaming management for putting together an over matched team but right now, I think the players deserve more blame. Darcy and Lindy can't make Thomas Vanek shoot the puck, Brian Campbell clear the crease, or Derek Roy hang on to the puck. They can't make guys crash the net or hustle after rebounds. The Bills were hardly a Super Bowl caliber team this season but they played hard, almost always leaving it all on the field, and that made them fun (if occasionally frustrating) to watch. Get it together, Sabres. Quit talking about what you need to do and do it. You're exhausting me.

23 comments:

MikeP said...

Just as you can thank Kevin Lowe for the Vanek situation, you can probably also thank him for the 4.5+ millions that Campbell's going to get next year. You just described Sheldon Souray, except minus the 26 goals and constant injuries.

stephanie said...

"Get it together Sabres. You're exhausting me." Amen, Heather! And from the time stamp, I gather you wrote this post BEFORE our dismal loss at the hands of the Thrashers today. What's next for this club? Every time I think it's bound to improve, we fall short -- and not because of talent, but because of will -- again. Ugh.

Heather B. said...

mikep: You're right! It is all Lowe's fault! All of it!

(Bucky Gleason wanted the Sabres to sign Sheldon Souray. Again, he does some things well but we needed him like a hole in the head.)

Stephanie, I started the entry before the game and wrote during it. Turned out to be pretty appropriate, huh? :-/

Becky said...

It would help if Lindy offered some leadership style coaching rather than pithy remarks. I don't get the impression that he screams at them in the locker room to try to penetrate the screwed up mindsets in there.

RJ said...

Larry Quinn actually blamed Nathan Horton for inflating the market on RFA forwards, which led to a the deal Derek Roy got. Who knew it wasn't Lowe's fault afterall...

And my numbers on signing Campbell are a lot less than your even your 5 mill, Heather. I guess that shows the value I give him.

Then again, defensemen do get their money on the open market. Souray was available for a long time after July 1st, but he finally got his big contract with Edmonton. Campbell will get paid, but if it has to be that much I'd rather he see it elsewhere.

Amanda said...

I agree that the players have to be held accountable for this. When I see Pominville and Miller - one guy who's wearing a letter and one that would if they let him - wax poetic about losing the game, I want to scream!

Get mad, for God's sake! Doesn't it suck to suck? Pommer - you missed on THREE shots today. What's up with that? Miller - you just looked drunk, let's face facts.

Yes, Soupy will get his money on the open market. But if we lose Soupy, who will take his place? The closest player to him as far as style, skill level etc is Andrej Sekera, and even though I like the guy, I'd rather see them send Paetsch and Kalinin packing. Sekera is young and needs time to gain experience that Soupy, like him or not, already has.

Sara and Anne said...

I definitely had to re-read the Buckster's article to make sure there wasn't some other Darcy Regier he could've been talking about.

Soupy and Miller were so visibly upset after Friday's game that I really thought that would translate on the ice on Sunday. Then again, maybe they used up all their energy being mad on Friday and were too tired by Sunday.

The Soupy contract negotiations and the possibilities with the looming trade deadline make my head hurt.

Quinny must go said...

Heather, I appreciate your comments but if you simply look at how much time Soupy logs, you can back it out from the salary cap and realize that if he wasn't an All-Star...on minutes alone, his salary proposal was justified.

Nevertheless, you are getting quality here. I agree its scary to think the team will all boil down to a few guys...but its scarier to think that these few guys may not include Campbell.

I think Bucky's point is Quinn treats people poorly (which lead players contemplating the open market) and objectively he alone has made some catastrophic decisions which have resulted in our team going from the best in the league to raising concern about missing the playoffs!

As a fan its heartbreaking but we must stop the madness...please remember besides Chris and Danny we lost Grier, Dumont, McKee (who still wants to live here) Pyatt, etc. I am amazed at how many times these guys appear in highlights during the normal course of the year aren't you?

Heather B. said...

Quinny: I don't not necessarily disagree with anything you're saying. I'm very torn on Soupy. I like him personally very much and he's been in the Sabres organization as long as I've been a Sabres fan. He's a guy who, much like McKee, would make me sad to see in another jersey. And again, I think he does some things very well and I think he has the potential to be a very good leader. Your point about ice-time is a very good one as well. But I don't know, with all the guys - UFA and RFA - coming up in the next couple of years, it makes me very nervous to tie up a huge amount of money in him because I think he's the least likely to be worth it. We might just have a difference of opinion there.

And I don't entirely disagree about management, especially if they are tying Regier's hands a lot - what's the point of having a smart GM if you're not going to use him? But my point was that management can't be blamed for the fact that the team seem incapable of stringing together a 60 minute effort. No one controls that but the players themselves and they're too often painted as the victim of management. When Regier said, "There's a lot of talent left here," he was right but that talent is wasting itself.

As a fan its heartbreaking but we must stop the madness...please remember besides Chris and Danny we lost Grier, Dumont, McKee (who still wants to live here) Pyatt, etc.

I agree that as a fan it's tough to lose players, but it's also unfortunately a part of pro sports these days. From a money standpoint there's no way the team could've kept all of the above players and honestly, in a few cases I think they made the right call.

I don't disagree that it sucks though, that's for sure! I just think we as fans sometimes forget that management has to look at a team in a much different way than we do.

Becky: I adore Lindy and I've shuddered at suggestions that it's time for him to move on, but he has made a few moves lately that have puzzled me to say the least. Considering how good he usually is with young players I am a little surrpised he's not getting more effort out of the team. Though again, I would say that's ultimately on the players. It's just easier to fire a coach than an entire team :-)

Everyone: The one argument that does sway me about Soupy is, "Where are we going to find a somewhat suitable replacement that doesn't also cost an absurd amount of money?"

Quinny must go said...

Heather:

I agree with everything you are saying except the fact that we could have kept EVERYONE here. Lets remember the Sabres put a policy in place that NO OTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM ever used (a.k.a. not negotiating in season). In sports, when players do well management typically says, "we love you, we need you..." Everyone of those guys could have been locked up for 3-5 years at the going rate. By not doing this you loose more than just the guys you loose the chemistry...which in sports is invaluable.

I would not worry about the labor situations, the reality is everyone has the same budget, the test is how you use it. We had a leg up because we had the first right of negotiation with players who other teams wanted. Case in point, if signed Campbell for 5/25 that would be advantageous for us b/c weather we like it or not, on the free market the price goes up.

Our management are the only ones to blame here.

They had the talent and the chemistry and the coach's...they let that go and then said that the players did not negotiate in good faith...they did too you had 3 years to sign anyone of these guys.

Put it this way, I'm sure you are good at your job. If your boss did not appreciate you...you would look for another opportunity. Conversely, if the boss came to you and told you what a great job you were doing and how he really could not be as successful as he was without you and to show his appreciation he wanted to give you a raise...well, I think you would think twice before leaving...

Meg said...

We could have kept several of the players we lost, but I'd certainly argue with the idea that we could have kept everyone. Every team loses good unrestricted free agents. Certainly teams like Detroit and Ottawa have in the last couple of years. But they make good decisions on who to keep and then do so, and more importantly in my opinion, they find ways to adequately replace lost talent. Those are the things the Sabres have failed to do, although in the case of McKee they did attempt to replace him with Spacek. Part of the problem has been contract negotiations while another part has been misjudgments both on proper replacements and on who to lose and who to keep.

they did too you had 3 years to sign anyone of these guys.

You can only negotiate in the last year of a multi-year contract or the last six months of a one-year contract, so a team really never has three years to sign anyone.

As for Campbell, this won't be a surprise to Heather, or some others here, but I'm of the opinion that he's not quite elite offensively and fairly average defensively. That makes him a valuable contributor to the team, but, in my opinion, someone who I'd be very cautious about signing to a large contract.

Quinny must go said...

Meg:

I agree with you what you said but I think you may have taken my point too literally. While there are always changes, as I think you know I was trying to say we "could" have kept them all. Again, all I'm saying is that this was our property.

And regarding the last 3 years...I think we will agree that players and management talk all the time...so generally the idea is if its something you wan to keep you simply communicate (a.k.a. give them what they want ego wise so it works for the business).

I'm just not concerned about the money for Soupy, you get what you pay for. He's a Buffalo guy who should play his whole career here. If he gets teamed with a good defense-man they could be one of the top pairings in the league.

Meg said...

While there are always changes, as I think you know I was trying to say we "could" have kept them all. Again, all I'm saying is that this was our property.

I did understand your point. And I'm saying, no we couldn't have. Because not only could the team not have afforded it, they're also not inanimate property. You said, "we could have kept EVERYONE here." I'm not precisely sure how to take that in any other way but literally. And I disagree.

And regarding the last 3 years...I think we will agree that players and management talk all the time...so generally the idea is if its something you wan to keep you simply communicate a.k.a. give them what they want ego wise so it works for the business

I sincerely doubt that we lost all those players because of ego. They're not five and it's a business. Furthermore, I doubt that players and management talk "all the time" in most situations. Certainly not about contracts (which would be in violation of the CBA).

I'm just not concerned about the money for Soupy, you get what you pay for. He's a Buffalo guy who should play his whole career here.

I would say first that you don't automatically get what you pay for in hockey and if we pay Campbell the amount of money under discussion, I really don't feel that we would be getting what we pay for. Second, why is he any more a Buffalo guy than any of the many other Sabres that have spent their whole careers in Buffalo thus far? He doesn't live in Buffalo year round or talk about how much he loves the city the way some players do/did. I wouldn't expect him to and I don't care that he doesn't, but I fail to see what makes him such a "Buffalo guy."

If he gets teamed with a good defense-man they could be one of the top pairings in the league.

Sure if by "good defenseman" you mean someone far superior to him defensively. He's paired with a perfectly decent defenseman right now and I wouldn't consider them one of the top pairings in the league. He's spent only a few games in his entire career playing against the other teams top line and as often as not it hasn't gone well. I wouldn't consider any pairing that doesn't routinely play against the other teams top line to be one of the top pairings in the league.

That's all a matter of semantics though and I doubt this difference of opinion will be resolved.

Heather B. said...

Quinny: First of all, let me say I hope it doesn't sound like I'm attacking you because that's not my intention at all. I love hearing everybody's differences in opinions and I'm really glad you commented!

Put it this way, I'm sure you are good at your job. If your boss did not appreciate you...you would look for another opportunity.

Maybe it's just the terrible work environments I've worked in ;-) but I've never had a great supervisor as far as employee encouragement goes. If I judged my current work by how grateful and supportive my supervisor is on a day-to-day basis, I'd be out of there like a flash. And while I do not love my paycheck, I love my work there, I love the kids in my program, and I love my other co-workers. So I stay. I don't disagree that a supervisor SHOULD be good at employee relations and I won't disagree that the Sabres don't seem to be good at the people aspect of the job but I find the idea that pro athletes should be constantly patted on the head dumb (and that's not specifically directed at you - I've heard that many places) and it especially drives me crazy in the Chris Drury discussion. The organization made no bones about the fact that they were building the team around him and they listened to his input on different things.

Again, it does appear that the Sabres have some problems with the people side of the equation and I agree that's a problem. But it does drive me a little crazy that any time a player isn't signed or signed fast enough, it's automatically management's fault. The front office - Darcy Regier in particular - has become the easy bad guy. There are two sides in a negotiation and the local media never presents the possibility that maybe the player asked for more money than the team could handle or wanted to test free agency or didn't want to commit long-term to one team while he was still developing or wanted to live in a different part of the country. Players know what they're worth and what they're going to be worth down the line and if they don't, the people who work for them do. They're not all pure and noble. It boggles my mind a little that everyone assumes that management is twisting or covering things to make themselves look better while assuming that players and agents - agents! - are being completely on the up and up. I usually assume the truth about negotiations is somewhere in between what the two sides are saying.

As for Soupy, I think we've just reached a fundamental difference in opinion :-) I like him, I like things about his game, I would be sad to see him somewhere else. But there are other players on the team who I'd prefer the big money contracts go to.

Meg:

Part of the problem has been contract negotiations while another part has been misjudgments both on proper replacements and on who to lose and who to keep.

If I had a time machine I think I'd go back and cut Kotalik loose while keeping Dumont.

Meg said...

If I had a time machine I think I'd go back and cut Kotalik loose while keeping Dumont.

Me too. I mean, I don't dislike Kotalik, but I think you're absolutely right that Dumont would have done more for the team. I'd also make more of an effort (aka some effort) to keep Briere since not only do I think, in retrospect, that he wanted to be here more than Drury, I also think that the team just may have actually needed him more than Drury in the long run. Those seem to me to be two key errors when it comes to personnel decisions.

Heather B. said...

. I'd also make more of an effort (aka some effort) to keep Briere since not only do I think, in retrospect, that he wanted to be here more than Drury, I also think that the team just may have actually needed him more than Drury in the long run.

Yeah, I'd agree that Danny did seem to want to stay more and I'd agree that we miss him more now than Chris. I never would've thought that before the season - I expected Chris to be the bigger blow - but it's definitely arguable.

Becky said...

I wrote most of this over on Bfloblog, and I'm not going to re-write much except to change 2 names:

quinny must go's post closely resembles in tone a post I read over at Bfloblog. Basically, “If Only, If Only’ and it’s all Quinn’s fault.

Everyone else seems to merit an excuse. I’m one of the first to give people benefit of doubt for a while, but it gets old. The guys get paid good money to go full bore, whether they feel alienated, feelings hurt, whatever.

When it comes to money to a player they’ll tell you it’s a business, nothing personal. So I expect them to play like professionals, each & every game.

Campbell was quoted as saying they’d be happy with half or so wins on the road? I think maybe they should aim for 100%, no matter how unrealistic. That’s what they get paid for.

Becky said...

By the way Heather, I wasn't advocating that Ruff be fired. I was just questioning his apparent style, which I actually know nothing of, not being in the locker room.

I had said once that I didn't think he believed in the team, and they picked up on it. Maybe that's so. Or maybe they're so full of themselves they forget that merely showing up isn't good enough.

I think you said that, right? And maybe Kate? And maybe most of the people at Bfloblog? Goose's Roost? Every blog in Sabreland? So, not an original thought :)

QUINNY MUST GO said...

You guys are awesome, I appreciate all of your thoughts. This is fun!

For the record, I did not post anywhere else, I have a google alert set for Golisano and that is how I originally got to this blog.

Meg, I like your spirit. My point remains that every team has the same budget and prices keep going up so if you have the guys you like...lock them in.

Heather, thanks for the thread. I acknowledge that employers don't always do the right thing. Some do, but they are hard to find. Nevertheless, in sports (and entertainment) its all ego driven so if you have to kiss some major behind to save a few million, I would submit you do it. Quinn is not a good guy this is not opinion its fact, it has been well documented in the media and while it does not matter I can line up respectable people whom you would admire to verify the same...and I can promise you from the source that he was the driving reason Chris left. He would have stayed if they would have kept their word (a.k.a put the offer forward).

We ended up paying TV the most out of anyone in the entire league this year, which clearly was not part of the plan. Quite simply Quinn got out played by the rest of the leagues management more than once.

Becky, hindsight is 20/20 but here is a little story...of course you know that the Sabres appear on MSG. Quinn made that deal. MSG is owned by the same guys who own the Rangers. MSG receives $6.5 Million/year to broadcast these games. Quinn not only lost Drury he gave the Rangers the money to pay for it.

The one thing we all have in common is we are Sabres fans and we want to win a cup.

We did pretty darn good the last two years and now we may not even make the playoffs? Darcy said the day we lost Chris and Danny we would not be as good...he was right.

IT IS ALL QUINN'S FAULT...look, I will still watch religiously and go to all the games...I just want to win the cup and that seems like a tall tale this year.

Heather B. said...

Quinny: Make no mistake, I would certainly believe that Quinn is not a nice guy and a bear to deal with. That's how he comes across. I don't like him very much. If Chris really did leave because of him that's unfortunate especially since I think he gave up a lot of other stuff - a great GM, a good head coach, a young, talented team, and a great place to raise a young family just to name a few :-) - but you're right that pro sports is a business that involves ass-kissing whether you enjoy it or not.

That said, pro sports are a tough business. Every player isn't going to stay in one place forever, some people are going to chase the money, sometimes there'll be personality conflicts, sometimes there's going to be a budget crunch etc. It's pretty easy for fans to say, "Keep everybody and make sure they're all happy!" and it's much harder to actually do that.

And really my main beef is Darcy Regier. I think he's one of the best GMs in the league - he's smart, he's straight-forward, and I think he does more often than not make the right call. While I've never met him I have a family member who's had some close dealings with him and because of the circumstances, I like him as a person too. I hate to see him get torn apart for one bad off-season - despite losing McKee, Grier, and Dumont the previous off-season he did a very good job of dealing with a team that was almost all due for new contracts and/or arbitration - especially since he's gotten very little credit from local media when he handles things well. I feel that way even more if it's really Quinn and/or Golisano causing the problem. Which is why I was so glad to see the Bucky Gleason column that originally inspired this entry.

Whew! I don't often write about Golisano, Quinny, but please feel free to drop by and read and comment any time. I'm just sitting around with a fractured ankle right now so you and Meg helped kill a day off for me which is much appreciated!

I think we can all agree that we want a Stanley Cup. Preferably in our lifetimes, you know? :-)

Amanda said...

Wow, great comments everybody!

I too don't like Quinn one bit. My impression is that Quinn makes/made a lot of the bad decisions, and that Darcy does the best he can.

Also, I have nothing against Golisano making his money back on his investment, but he's not gonna get far if this team continues to suck. He's got to realize that fan loyalty only goes so far. Get rid of Quinn!!!!

I like Lindy Ruff a lot, and this morning while listening to WGR was the first time that I said, "Oh my God, maybe he's lost the room." It was not a happy thought. I know it's easier to replace the coach than the team, but he's not the problem, he just isn't.

The players do need to be held accountable for the lack of consistent effort. Look - I think we all agree that the Sabres don't suck nearly as much as it looks like they do right now.

So what's going on? Why aren't they listening? Why aren't they doing what they keep talking about? Why isn't someone kicking some ass in that locker room?

I don't have any of those answers, but as a fan, it's pretty disappointing to watch them perform like a bunch of bantam players.

Ok, I'm done. I feel much better now, thank you. :-P

Becky said...

Speaking for myself and people that that I actually talk to in person, we're disappointed right now.

Even though it's last year's theme - we believed. Heck, we still believe.

But with every game we feel more like an older kid waiting for Santa Claus, wondering if it's all make-believe now.

Mark B said...

Speaking of JP Dumont...

I hear a rumor that JP is on the trading block. I'd love to have him back but I don't think Darcy will ever admit he made a mistake (See Peca, Michael).

Great discussion, guys. It's nice ot read a civil, respectful disagreement after some of the viciousness I've seen on Sabres message boards.