Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let's Have a Presser!

Thoughts on the press conference and interview Larry Quinn, Darcy Regier, and Lindy Ruff did today:

- I do appreciate management admitting they made some mistakes and mishandled some situations. Now can we move on and give them a chance to act differently in the future? Mistakes were made, mistakes were admitted, no amount of complaining is going to change the things that already happened. Moving along, moving along.

- I liked Darcy Regier's comments that teams have to be careful with long-term contracts. He's absolutely right that you can't give everyone six and seven years especially when you're handing them out when players are so young. I think Thomas Vanek has been consistent enough that he'll probably be a valuable player for six more years but if he doesn't pan out he wouldn't be the first player to get off to a promising start and then peter out. When you've got a bunch of guys tied up for years and some of them don't work out the way you were hoping, you're stuck. Long-term contracts should be saved for special players. I think there will probably always be disagreements about who those guys are - I'm glad they traded Brian Campbell instead of giving him one of those deals, others are insistent that he should have been earmarked for one - but I really don't see how you can disagree with a more cautious approach at least on this issue. I may be in the minority but I'd rather have a GM who occasionally lets the wrong guy go but leaves some flexibility to recover from the mistake than a GM who throws huge money and terms at everyone and ties the organization up for years because those guys were busts and can't be moved.

- Larry Quinn went a little hard on the reminders that Tom Golisano saved the Sabres. Yes, he bought the team when it was close to ending up elsewhere. Yes, he spent a lot of money on losing seasons before the lockout. We get it. Overall though I do think Quinn was a touch less assy than he usually is.

- I do think management was pretty agreeable to some of the criticisms of the current team especially a lack of leadership and overuse of Ryan Miller. I think those are things pretty much everyone can agree on so I was glad to hear them just admit it rather than trying to wiggle out of it or spin it.

- Lindy Ruff's criticism of Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman hurt my heart but he's right. They were very inconsistent this year. There were a lot of stretches where either both of them were playing poorly or one of them was playing poorly enough that it was bringing down the other. In a season where a lot of the players were looking at different roles and big changes, the Sabres really needed Tallinder and Lydman, who were in the same role as last year, to be steady especially at the beginning of the season. Instead they were as shaky as everyone else. There was a point in February where Hank was, by some standards (pretty good ones, I think), the best defensive d-man in the league. By the end of the year he'd tumbled to 20th. I don't think it's coincidence that when Tallinder and Lydman were playing their best hockey, the team was succeeding and when they were struggling, the team was losing. (I would also put Ryan Miller in with Five and Dime. He was as shaky as they were - even before the stretch run when he was obviously running on fumes - and slightly better defense or slightly better goaltending during the ten game losing streak means the Sabres are probably still playing.) (Also, I still love you, Hank. Get in terrific shape this summer, okay?)

- I don't really understand the criticism of the Sabres offering Campbell a three year deal. If they didn't want to give him a lot of money long-term but they were interested in him coming back, what does it hurt to see if he'll take more money for shorter years? What if it had come out later that Campbell would've taken a shorter contract but the Sabres didn't offer it? The front office would've been lambasted. And Darcy is right about San Jose. I was talking to a Sharks fan about that not long ago. The Sharks have not made it a habit to hand out long-term contracts even to their stars. I suppose they could start this season but it is a little much to accuse the Sabres of insulting Campbell with a three year deal for a lot of money when they're hardly the only franchise that's being careful. (Please note that I'm not saying the reporter who asked about Campbell's contract offer was implying that - although maybe he was, I don't know. That was more a response to complaints I've heard from others.)

- Maybe you could argue that the Sabres haven't done a good job of setting the market for their own players (although Derek Roy at four million a year is a good start) but how in the world can you suggest that they're partly to blame for escalating salaries across the league? Because they have one outrageous contract on the books? As long as the Sabres are under the current management and the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Kevin Lowe are in the league, I think that's a pretty dumb suggestion. (That had to be Bucky.)

- I can't always tell everyone's voices apart but I think I really like John Vogl at press conferences. He always asks questions I want to know the answers to but he manages to do it without sounding accusatory or biased. He's always very even-keeled. that might just be John's personality and I know sometimes reporters have to be more aggressive to get a real answer out of someone like Larry Quinn but I appreciate that his initial approach is more professional than um... other's.

- I'll accept youth as an excuse this year. The team is young, they went through a lot of change, and they had their first year of regular season struggle. Next year I don't know if I'll buy that excuse from these guys though. This was your year to be stubborn and stupid, boys. Let's fix all that next season.

- On Schopp and the Bulldog, Darcy talked some about the scouting department which I thought was pretty interesting if you didn't hear it. Since we've been given the impression that the scouting department has been reduced to a nine-year-old watching grainy black-and-white video on one of those televisions people have on the counters in their kitchens, it was nice to get more detail. I'm shocked that things might have been exaggerated a little bit.

- Also shocking? Darcy Regier evidently isn't interested in telling us what the Sabres are planning on offering Ryan Miller.

Press conference
Schopp and the Bulldog Part 1
Schopp and the Bulldog Part 2


Amy said...

Mistakes were made, mistakes were admitted

Throughout all this, I do like the fact that management has admitted to making mistakes. The way this season played out would be a lot harder to swallow if management insisted they handled things perfectly.

GCFB said...

The LQ thinks The LQ did a great job in the press conference.

Meg said...

Overall though I do think Quinn was a touch less assy than he usually is.

That's a decided advantage to setting the assiness bar high. :)

Heather B. said...

The LQ was a jackass last year so he'd look good this year! I think you're on to something there, Meg. The LQ is crafty like that.

Anne M said...

I watched the press conference on last night and I thought Adam Benigni from channel 2 asked the best questions. Part of that is no doubt due to being a tv reporter, so he might have more experience with being brief and clear, but he also managed not to sound like whiny baby.

I thought management struck the right balance between admitting they made mistakes and not taking so much blame that they look like idiots. They know that the people who think they suck are going to think that no matter what they say, but I thought they wisely aimed their comments at the people more in the middle. There are people who think they're doing an okay job, but that they need to learn from the mistakes they've made recently. They seemed to say they're learning.

I get what you're saying about Quinn hammering on TG saving the Sabres, but I do think some people have lost sight of that this season. All these people who say he's a shitty owner, not present enough this season, doesn't know enough about hockey, seem to have forgotten a few things: The previous owners are serving time. His only competition to buy the Sabres moved the other team he owned out of Buffalo. The owner of the other major sports team in Buffalo seems to be laying the groundwork for that team to leave. Golisano hasn't been perfect, and people shouldn't give him a lifetime pass from criticism just because he bought the team, but he has done a lot of good things since he bought the team, and he deserves some goodwill for that. In my opinion anyway.

ElmaGolf said...

I didn't mind the LQ pointing out the Golisano saving again. Far too many people seem to think the team is an "entitlement." Sure Tom could afford to absorb losses - why is there an "expectation" among people that he should ("Tom, when you pay for our entertainment, make sure it's always a winner or we'll call you names").

I wish more had been made of the "Salary as a % of Revenue" figures, especially when the Buff News trots out their implicit "cheapness" statements when the Sabres are in the middle of the league for Salaries. Who's more generous - a guy making $50,000 a year donating $20,000 to charity or a guy making $100,000 a year donating $25,000 to charity?

I truly believe Golisano genuinely cares about this team being an affordable "asset" to the community for years to come - and not just a plaything for the wealthy. Do you want to be able to afford attending games or just cheer for a team on TV? Maybe I'm being naive, but listening to the team talk about its long-range business model that was set up several years ago, I think that's a very real concern to them (and it doesn't necessarily mean "cheap bargain basement" products).

ElmaGolf said...

anne m. - I think we were typing identical thoughts at the same time.

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on how people have lost their focus.

Great points about Hamister - he was so loyal to Buffalo. Also, he really didn't have the money anyway and couldn't provide any real stability (wasn't his financing partner also indicted shortly after their offer?)

Re: Wilson - don't know what to make of him. On one hand, his refusal to arrange a transition plan to a Buffalo group (e.g. Kelly & his contacts) is very disconcerting. If we're talking about the difference between $1.2BB (obscene wealth) vs. $800MM (gross wealth), I think the Greed is a bit deplorable for something you've built a legacy upon.

However, at the same time, if Ralph was truly just motivated by Greed, the Bills would have been gone long ago. He has stuck by a dwindling community for years - so I do give him credit for that. I guess that's what makes the whole "stringing along" on the transition plan more difficult to comprehend.

Anne M said...

Elma--we're definitely on the same wavelength. Some people definitely think the team is an entitlement. I hate when people start in on all the things Golisano "can afford." For one thing, it's really easy to spend someone else's money! For another, the guy didn't get to be a billionaire by throwing his money around indiscriminately.

Re: Wilson, I guess I'm surprised that he doesn't seem to be getting anywhere near the level of criticism lately as Golisano. Now maybe that's just because football is in the off-season so everyone is focused on hockey and Golisano's many supposed failures. But I expected a lot more noise about Bills games in Toronto and what that means for the long-term future of the franchise. Additionally, one of the biggest cracks on Golisano is that he complains too much about the financial situation of the NHL, but everyone seems to accept Wilson's whining about being on the corner with a tin cup as near-gospel truth. I also think that if a Bill ran his contract negotiations through the media the way Brian Campbell tried to, people (from TBN to Bob in South Buffalo) would be turning against him in droves. It's certainly an interesting contrast (though maybe not really on topic ...).

Mark B said...

I thought after reading some of the transcripts of the PC and the Buff news that Darcy's comments about Max were the most damning. When your GM indicates at a PC that you might need a change of scenery, you're almost as good as gone. I know most of us want Max gone (I think), but it was still surprising to hear.