(This is my second post in the last 12 or so hours so make sure you read both of them. Please?)
Ummm, Bucky? Is that you? That's your name above the column and that's your deceivingly cheery head shot next to the opening paragraph, but this column sounds... happy? Dare I say, optimistic? Do we need to locate Mulder and Scully?
I do have a few tiny nitpicks to get out of the way. Come on, this is Bucky and me. This is what we do. (Mark, this morning, The Dark Knight still on his mind: "Bucky's your Joker and you're his Batman. You complete each other.")
1. I still think it's a mistake to lump Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, and Brian Campbell into one pile. The Sabres totally screwed up the Drury negotiations, but they made a decision to let Briere walk and they never agreed with Campbell and his agent on what Campbell's worth was. Every single one of the above situations is different.
2. "Jason Pominville is more likely to remain on board rather than join the others who were forced to jump ship." Forced to jump ship? Really, Bucky? Maybe you could make that argument for Briere who definitely got a "Thanks for your time here" offer, but the Sabres wanted to match every offer Drury got including the one he signed with the Rangers and the team negotiated with Campbell all season. FREE agents are FREE to go wherever they want. That's why they're called FREE agents. No one put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to sign elsewhere. Was Drury turned off by the negotiations? I don't know, maybe. That's not the same thing as being chased out of town with torches and pitchforks.
3. "Pommer the Bomber" has to stop. Has there ever been a worse nickname thrown around than that one? It doesn't even make sense for the kind of player Pominville is. Seeing that in print drives me bonkers.
4. The things that Bucky is suddenly excited about - New AHL affiliation! Young core of talent! Long-term contracts! Really good drafting and promising prospects! - are all things that existed a month ago. This is pretty close to the same team we had at the end of the season. A few columns ago the whole organization was happy with mediocrity and now they've suddenly figured out the best way to build a team?
But, even with the above complaints, I do get it. I get that Ryan Miller has become the face of the franchise and is therefore considered a little more important. I get that it was important to get a guy who's come up through the system and gone out of his way to ingrain himself in the community into the fold for a long while. I get that people think the Sabres were forced into signing Thomas Vanek long-term and that Jochen Hecht, as much as I love him, is a (great) complementary piece. I get that it was important for the Sabres to sit down with a player that the national media and national fan base see as a star player and come away with a long-term contract. I get that as important as Vanek and Derek Roy are to the future of the team, it's Ryan Miller's signing who really finally puts some distance between this team and the Drury/Briere team. I get people feeling like Ryan Miller is the big piece in the middle that connects all the preexisting pieces to each other. I really do.
For months, people have been complaining on Sabres Edge that Ryan Miller didn't want to be here and saying they'd believe management was serious about winning when they convinced him to stay. I couldn't believe it when I wandered over there yesterday and found people complaining: it's too many years, it's too much money, he had a terrible season, he never steals games, he's not as good as Lundqvist, he's too old to get better. I should no longer be surprised at people's capacity to move immediately from one complaint to another, but come on. How hard is it to be happy about the one thing you've been demanding for months now even for a few moments? I just don't understand fans who never seem to find any joy in the teams they watch. I usually enjoy a good debate over there - I know, I'm demented - but I had to walk away. I just wanted to be happy.
So I do give Bucky huge props for saying, "This is what will make me happy," and then actually being happy when it happened. If it took signing Ryan Miller to clear the clouds blocking Bucky from seeing all that other good stuff he talked about, hey, whatever. I wasn't sure the ol' Buckster had it in him.
See how easy it can work, Bucky?