Sunday, February 24, 2008

The End of the Road

Starting tomorrow, Top Shelf is a Buffalo News-free zone, excluding Sabres Edge as long as I can read it while avoiding Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan. I did this once before and it was so nice that I'm not sure why I went back to reading TBN in the first place. I've completely had my fill. But let's go out with a bang, shall we?

Today we were treated to the Chris Drury column that was so effin' predictable that Kevin at Bfloblog called it last night. I'm going to do this the Fire Joe Morgan way because there's a whole lot of stupid in this column.

Drury received a mix between cheers and jeers when he was introduced before the Rangers’ 4-3 victory, confirming certain fans comprehended the impact Drury had in Buffalo while many others didn’t have a clue. Then again, the same divide exists between the dressing room and the owner’s suite.

One group gets it, and the other never will.

First of all, enough with the "fans who boo don't understand what Chris Drury meant" garbage. We get it, Bucky, and you are such a condescending little prick to suggest that we, the fans of Buffalo, do not get or appreciate Chris Drury. We cheered for him every single night he wore a Buffalo uniform. We loved him and embraced him and wanted desperately for him to be the guy to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. We made his jersey one of the best-selling jerseys in the NHL. We appreciated all the little things he did on the ice to contribute to wins. We understand how he influenced the players who are still here. We know he's a nice guy. But we also understand that he was here for three years and that he now plays for another team. Fans are not obligated to cheer for players on the other side. Fans are not obligated to think logically and objectively. Fans can cheer or boo as they see fit and for many, many fans it really only comes down to, "What jersey is he wearing? Oh, right, not ours."

Second of all, enough with the "managment doesn't get it" garbage. Larry Quinn said it was a mistake to let Chris Drury go. Darcy Regier said it was a mistake to let Chris Drury go, looked devastated when it happened, and admitted that the team wouldn't be as competitive without him. Management signed Jochen Hecht to a long-term deal during the season. Management started negotiating with Brian Campbell when they could and did so right up until he brought a halt to talks and have since started negotiating with him again. I'm not even going to touch how stupid it is to put Brian Campbell's ridiculous contract demands in the same grouping as Drury and Daniel Briere.

But because he didn’t bow to management after they mishandled his contract last season, a good many fans roasted him every time he touched the puck.

That is probably why some people booed him. And you know what? That's their right as a fan. That is not however why everyone booed him. Some people booed him because he's not a Sabre. Some people booed him because he's a Ranger. Some people booed him because he's overpaid and - whether you like it or not - underachieving. Some people booed him because they think he didn't appreciate how much his teammates in Buffalo contributed to his game. Some people booed because they felt like he didn't love us the way we loved him. Some people booed him because they like to boo. I feel pretty safe in suggesting that most people's booing did not have anything to do with player vs. management.

To review, again, Drury agreed to a four-year contract worth $21.5 million, splitting the difference between the Sabres’ offer and his proposal. He grew tired of waiting for management to finalize the deal, the market changed and he decided to hit the road. Basically, the Sabres could have had him at a discount and let him get away.

To review, we don't really need the review because you haven't let us forget this yet. To review, everyone agrees that it was a mistake to let Chris Drury go. What's your point?

If fans wanted to boo someone, they should have started with owner Tom Golisano and managing partner Larry Quinn. They created the Drury mess, and they spent months manipulating the truth. It’w amazing how people continue swallowing the company line.

It's not swallowing the company line. It's moving on. It's realizing that no matter how many times you write this article, Chris Drury is not going to magically reappear in a Sabres uniform. It's choosing to cheer for the team on the ice in front of us even though it lost important pieces. It's waiting to see if management handles the next important piece - that would be Ryan Miller, not Brian Campbell - differently.

Golisano confirmed his ignorance on the radio recently when he referenced Drury’s plus-minus rating this season, a subtle hint the center was struggling. If he had a shred of hockey knowledge, he have known Drury spent half the year shuffling between lines, switching positions and trying to appease high-maintenance winger Jaromir Jagr.

I cannot believe this. I cannot believe that the columnist who has refused to make any excuses for the Sabres - age, new roles, different responsibilities, line changes, injuries - is making excuses for a guy who is not even on the team anymore. Are you fucking kidding me? Bucky, let me break this down for you. CHRIS DRURY HAS STRUGGLED! CHRIS DRURY HAS NOT LIVED UP TO A 7 MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT! Jaromir Jagr being high-maintenance is not exactly news. This is not a surprise. I'm pretty sure Drury should have factored this into his decision to play for the Rangers. I'm pretty sure that's not a good excuse. If Derek Roy said, "It's tough to play with Max because he's hard to predict and all over the place," what would you say?

I also cannot believe that Bucky Gleason - who last year said that Derek Roy had maxed out at age 23 and wouldn't be worth his contract and had him being re-signed for under a million dollars in his "How I Would Handle the Team" article (real good understanding of the NHL market, Buckster) - is calling into question the hockey knowledge of someone who has admitted time and time again that he doesn't really know that much about hockey. I don't know about you guys, but I'm reeeeally impressed.

Drury is a minus-9. Funny, it never bothered Golisano when he was minus-11 two years ago while leading the Sabres into the conference finals and filling the owner’s pockets.

Right. Because then he was a Sabre. Now he's not. Owner likes player better when he's making him money! Whoa, somebody alert the media because that is some breaking news right there!

Drury and Campbell had dinner Friday night at Tempo, an upscale restaurant in Allentown. They didn’t discuss how Campbell’s persistent contract problems, but you can bet Campbell learned a thing or two while watching Drury’s situation unfold last season.

Hopefully he learned that it's really hard to live up to an insane contract. That sometimes your teammates make you as much as you make them. That the love of a city is fickle and not based on things like logic and objectivity. That big market teams with lots of big names are not necessarily more competitive than smaller market teams with a bunch of complementary pieces. That there is some value in playing with guys you know inside and out on the ice and off.


We’ll see what happens. Don’t be surprised if you see Campbell follow his former captain one more time, right out the door.

Great. Because Campbell is not worth a penny over five million dollars and the Sabres defense will probably be okay without him in the end. We could use that money to insure that Miller, Jason Pominville, and Paul Gaustad stick around for a while. What? That wasn't your point? Oh, right. THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE STUPID!

P.S. to Bucky: Jay Pandolfo, Selke nominee and one of the most important interchangeable parts of the New Jersey Devils, is a UFA at the end of this season and currently unsigned - along with three other guys - so maybe you should do a quick internet search before you make loud declarations like THE DEVILS HAVE SIGNED EVERYONE EVER.


Anonymous said...


-- A fan

Meg said...

You know, I just don't get how Bucky is employed.
Hee! This is awesome, Heather. Bucky just baffles me.

He doesn't get the game and he doesn't get the city, and he's not a particularly good writer, so exactly why is he a hockey columnist? I think the fact that he said, Chris Drury, "gave this town hope," shows just how much he doesn't get it. What made the team special wasn't Drury. Hell it wasn't any particular player. It was that it was a team that seemed like so much more than the sum of its parts and was doing so much more than people expected of it. That's what people identified with and Drury was a part of it not the whole damn thing. People cheer for the team, not the management. For the players, not Larry Quinn. So I guess what I want to know is if Bucky is really that out of touch or if the truth about the fans just isn't convenient for his terrible columns.

twoeightnine said...

I've really got nothing to add to this besides thanks, perfect.

Well maybe that I'm glad that I didn't grow up with Bucky though for the most part Bob Matthews is Rochester Bucky.

Anne M said...

Just want to say great post, Heather. I'm not even clicking on Bucky today because I don't want to add to his page view count.

I have a lot to say about him, Drury, Sabres management, and TBN, but it's all too infuriating and I want to be in a happy place when I start watching Oscars red carpet coverage!

Tessa said...

I thought we were finally done hearing the over-the-top adoration of Drury and his intangibles when he left. I suppose that was horribly naive.

I do appreciate that Bucky expressed some of the anger a lot of us were feeling about the free agency debacle after July 1st, even if there's some oversimplification in his view. I appreciated July. Maybe some of August because there wasn't much else to talk about. But, it's February. And while I recognize its relevance to this game, he's been focusing on the same thing for seven months. We've gotten the point. We're not stupid, and we're ready to move on and hear about something else.

How about the issues this team has closing out a game, the mental mistakes that are killing them? Something more positive; the quiet resurgence of Jason Pominville's game, or more on the solid play of Dmitri Kalinin? There's plenty to write about when it comes to this team. I guess I just can't look to Bucky's column for any of that.

Katebits said...


*stands up*



I'm with you Heather, only I'm not reading Sabres Edge either. Bucky's columns are bad, he's WRONG a LOT of the time, and to top it off, he's constantly calling me an idiot. Fuck you, Bucky. And fuck the Buffalo News for employing him. If he was just a lone voice in a line-up of diverse columnists, I would choose to ignore him, but he's not. The message of "you stupid fans don't like the truth" is evident in at least half of their Sabres coverage and I think it's appalling.

Amy said...


I apologize if this is a duplicate, but blogger ate my comment.

I'm not sure that Bucky realizes that contract negotiations are a two way street. If Drury really wanted to stay on the team, he or his agent could've picked up the phone and reminded the Sabres about the deal. Putting the onus of failure 100% on the Sabres isn't that fair (thought they do deserve more than their fair share of the blame).

Mark B said...

Amen. I think I said my piece in your comment thread yesterday, but I'll just agree with Meg here and scratch my head wondering how this guy has a job.

Sometimes I even question if he watches the games. Nah, it's just a lot easier to copy and paste: "5 years, 25 Million" into his Word document and nap most of the day. What a sad excuse for a writer.

I applaud the new Buffalo News free Top Shelf. Glad to see that the people involved here have moved on unlike someone whose name rhymes with Fucky. Kiss my ass, Gleason.

brian s. said...

Are we going to get another article like this in the Buffalo News tomorrow when Danny Briere and the Flyers come to town? And it's the day before the trade deadline. I wish you would have waited until after that game to put your boycott in effect just so I could read another article of yours like this.

Heather B. said...

Thanks, guys and girls! I am glad I'm not alone in my annoyance with Bucky/TBN. It hurts my head and heart that some people take him seriously.

Meg, I do hate that Drury (and Briere) are being given almost all the credit for the last couple of years. They were definitely a huge part of the team's success but so were a lot of the other guys. If you'd kept Drury and Briere and lost say, Ryan Miller and Jason Pominville, the team still would've suffered this season. Is it really that hard a concept, particularly since neither Drury or Briere is having the success in new places that they had here? Egads.

Brian, sorry, you're on your own dealing with Bucky and Briere :-) Briere's been here already though so maybe we're through the worst of it with him. That was immediately after my surgery so I was too drugged up to take much notice of how TBN handled that, thank goodness.

Becky said...

Actually, we did lose Dumont for Briere - the arbitration award year. In order to keep Briere and his award, Dumont & his award had to go.

Dumont's doing pretty well right now.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Regier offered Drury what the Rangers were offering him and Drury said no thanks! He wanted to leave, so he is gone. Goodbye and have fun in the City, where you have disappeared as a player. I am not so sure the NY fans have embraced you like the Buffalo fans. I have never denied the intangibles with Drury but he seems to deny Buffalo fans the intangibles that we provided him. We put him on a pedestal, bought jerseys with his number, loved him as a leader, called him Captain Clutch and any number of other things so why do I care if he is gone or not. He wanted the benefits of our love but did not reciprocate. So . . . BOOOOOOO!

The real question is: Why Sean Avery?!! WHY?!!! I hate that guy!!!


I haven't commented in a awhile and forget my password. Sorry for the anonymous.

Vanek's Hair said...

Very well said regarding Bucky and the Buffalo News!! For the record, I was at the game in question and did not boo. One, I am not much on booing anyway, and two, I felt that if I booed, I would be contributing to the further perpetuation of this tedious and drawn out Buffalo News template.

Not long ago, I reread Bucky "Bucky" Gleason's "How to Run the Sabres" from June. What a fool. I remember at the time, people (WGR) referred to that as "required reading" for Sabres fans. It should be required re-reading, so that Sabres fans who read his one samba fully understand just why he is a columnist, and not in an NHL front office.

I had the "pleasure" of listening to Jerry Sullivan this morning when I was getting ready for work, and I find him to be nothing more than a flame thrower. Saying that GOlisano is not the businessman we may have thought. Really, we disregard that he runs a billion dollar successful company in a state that is perhaps the least business friendly in the union and yet he is not good because Drury and Briere are gone? Amazing.

Oh well. The game was fun, with the exception of Avery getting a star awarded to him. Maybe the Sabres defensive struggles were related to their best defensive forward (Hecht) being out for the game. But that will clearly get lost in the other "story"

And damn you Vanek for not scoring on the breakaway!!!!

Heather B. said...

Vanek's Hair, do you have a copy of that Bucky column? Because I tried to locate it somewhere so I could verify that I didn't make that up and I couldn't find it.

Also, I literally just finished writing the following sentence in the post I'm working on right now when your comment popped up in my email: "Don't underestimate the importance of Jochen Hecht being out of the line-up." We're totally on the same wave-length there.

Gilbert P said...

What Tessa said...

Also, if anyone's stepped up this year after the Brury/Driere debacle it's been Jochen Hecht. Our best two-way player -- and antidote for Chris Drury.

GCFB said...

It just seems now that the News is going after Golisano, they went after Quinn, that got old, now its the owner.

He isn't a successful business man? The team operates in the black, after drowning in red for years. The place is packed, they surpassed the Bills in popularity. How is that not judged as a success?

Meg said...

Heather, I can email you the Bucky column. I have access to years worth of his columns through Nexis. What more could a girl want?

Vanek's Hair said...

Heather B. - I don't have a copy of that column. It was a few weeks ago that I read it. It is now locked in the Buffalo News vault, and I don't want to pay for it. But I remember he was certain Vanek would not get more than $4 million in a qualifying offer (Oops) That Roy could be re-signed for about $1.5 (Off by a bit). It also had the obligatory demand that Afinogenov, Kotalik and Kalinin be traded. All in all, it was a humorous read, so far off what the actual market dictated.

I must forewarn you. You may not want to so publically announce being on the same wave length as me. Dangerous territory. :)

Becky said...

A final thought - Bucky and others keep acting like Drury/Briere made the Buffalo Sabres who they were.

Nope, sorry. The Buffalo Sabres made Briere and Drury who they were. Without the Sabres (especially Pomminville & Hecht for Briere) they're right back to being not spectaculars - just very well paid ones.