Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Like Darcy Regier (But No, I Am Not Related To Him)

Buffalo, I love you but you're crazy. You know that, right? Darcy Regier all but told you that most of what the Sabres did this year would probably be done via trade, he told you that they had a certain number of dollars they were willing to spend and they wouldn't go over it, he told you he thought it was a fairly weak UFA market this season, and he told you they had two very specific needs to fill. And even after all that - and even after they filled one of those needs - you still freaked out when the Sabres hadn't signed a big name by the end of the night.

Listen, I get it. Every hockey fan wants to wake up on UFA day and unwrap the shiny new toy. You know, that really cool toy that has the bright, running lights and the realistic sound effects, the one that everyone is grabbing for and only one or two lucky people get. But we all know what happens. You play with the toy for a few months and then the batteries start to run down. A speaker busts and the sound gets really tinny. The lights still run but only every other one blinks because the bulbs, on closer inspection, are really cheap. One of the plastic arms breaks off, making the toy kind of useless and ugly and you suddenly realize, "Wait a second! This toy doesn't play enough defense or kill enough penalties for the price I paid for it!" And then you're stuck. You can't sell the thing on eBay because no one wants it and you can't talk one of your buddies into making a trade, not even for the cheap action figure that doesn't bend at the knees and elbows. You have to either buy some other toys to pile around it and hope they hide it - although good luck because unfortunately you spent a huge chunk of your toy budget on that P.O.S. - or you just have to toss the friggin' thing in the garbage. And really, who wants that?

Here's what some other teams did today.

Toronto gave their fans the Finger (sorry, sorry) and signed a 28-year-old who's played in 94 NHL games to 3.5 million for 4 years.

The Rangers paid 6.5 million for a defenseman who didn't do well under pressure and was such a disappointment in the last two seasons that his team was desperate to get rid of him.

Tampa Bay signed, by my unofficial count, 18 forwards. They also signed Olaf Kolzig, which would be fine if they weren't already talking about shopping Mike Smith, their other (younger, potentially very good) goaltender. They've evidently decided their defense is in fine shape which is... not what my assessment would be.

The Capitals went from Cristobal Huet to Jose Theodore in net which seems like a serious downgrade to me especially for the money involved. Oh, sure Theodore has played well for at least one stretch in the past few years. Not sure that's really what a young, up-and-coming team needs.

The Chicago Blackhawks decided Brian Campbell should be paid almost as much as Nicklas Lidstrom. Granted, I think he actually will fit in with the players they have pretty well - okay, that's what I hear, I haven't watched Chicago recently and wouldn't know anyone who plays defense for them if Brent Seabrook hadn't been on my fantasy team last year - and I can see him being one of those rare guys who plays better once his contract is settled than while he's trying to earn said contract but seven million dollars? For EIGHT YEARS? Brian Campbell's not a baby anymore. He'll be 37 when that contract is done. The Blackhawks also have major cap issues though they do admittedly have some time to address those.

My point? Most of this is crazy. And this isn't even including the alleged 10 million per offer made to Mats Sundin, the alleged 9 million per offer made to Marion Hossa, and whatever ridiculous contract The Shift is going to earn Brooks Orpik. Seriously, what was the last huge UFA signing that really made a difference the following year? This is madness.

For all the crap, Darcy Regier takes from Buffalo, I like him and would take him over most of the yahoo GMs out there.

I like that he's too smart to get into bidding wars with other GMs or smart enough to bow out of them at the right time.

I like that he's put some thought into what he wants to spend where and then sticks to it.

I like that he's more likely to go out and find someone like Toni Lydman or Teppo Numminen or Nolan Pratt who isn't a huge, flashy name but who fills a need and does it for a much more reasonable price.

I like that he's not afraid to ignore the UFA market and focus on trades. You do remember how Chris Drury and Danny Briere got to Buffalo, right?

I like that when it comes to big money and years, he seems to be focusing more on players who are already in Buffalo and already an important part of the team. (Yeah, yeah, Drury and Briere. Moving on!)

I like that while everyone is freaking out about UFAs, he's slowly pulling together a good core of players. Right now we have Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht, and Paul Gaustad for four years or more with Ryan Miller and Jason Pominville hopefully soon to follow. Maybe it's just me but that doesn't seem like too bad a group.

I like that he seems to realize that signing a load of expensive UFAs isn't the only way - or even a good way - to build a winning team. I like that he realizes the problems that do exist don't have to all be fixed TODAY RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND OH MY GOD PLEASE HURRY UP!

I like that when we're all watching paint dry in three years because there's another lockout, my GM won't have had anything to do with it.

Buffalo, take a chill pill, okay? Believe it or not, you're in pretty good hands.

And I like his kickin' mustache.


Meg said...

I am so relieved that Regier is not stupid enough to pay a merely decent defenseman--yes, Buffalo, Brooks Orpik is merely decent despite the fact that he's a local guy and hits frequently--5 million dollars or whatever the hell he's going to get. Because that would be great asset management.

People are such whiners.

Great post!

amy said...

This is a really great post.

Just a warning to stay away from Bucky this morning. He's the complete opposite of your post. (Darcy should've spent more, shouldn't have rejected Campbell's 5/25 offer and other goodies).

Anne M said...

I'm also relieved the Sabres were cautious yesterday. That was some crazy, apparently crack-driven, spending yesterday. And it's not over yet! I love hockey, but the NHL is really embarrassing at times.

My biggest relief yesterday was that the Sabres did NOT sign Darcy Tucker. I was starting to lose it over all the people who thought that was a good idea. I know the team needs a guy like that, but I don't think they need the guy who kneed Hecht while also whacking him in the head. The guy who was the subject of the head coach's somewhat famous "it's a joke" speech. I would think both Hecht and Ruff (but especially Hecht) might have a bit of an issue with him in the dressing room.

And thanks for the warning, Amy.

ElmaGolf said...

Yeah - the Edge bloggers were a bit loco yesterday. I mean, why bother playing the season now? - Chicago & Tampa are sure to meet in the Finals.

Bucky was as predictable as ever. I love how he's always willing to overpay other teams' players, but doesn't place any value on who's here (unless they're likely to be one of the supremely overvalued).

Kevin said...

Way to keep it reals, Heather.

Lee Andrew said...

I saw that Brian Campbell signed with the Hawks and my first reaction was I didn't know he played basketball.

I don't know if ice hockey and baseball are anything alike but even though I don't openly root for them I've always admired what the Minnesota Twins have done. They never get in bidding wars and never overspend for players and yet they've won their division four out of the last five years. Just last year they let Torii Hunter walk and traded Johan Santana and here they are 2.5 games out of first again. The Indians did the same thing last year and the Devil Rays are doing the same thing this year.

I don't know if it's possible to do the same thing in the NHL but there are at least some pro sports teams that can compete without spending so much money if they are run correctly.

And really, as much flack as the New York Yankees get about spending money when they won their Championships they were doing it with solid signings like Paul O'Neil and Bernie Williams. Not paying tons of money for Jason Giambi or Alex Rodriguez.

Erin said...

What about Bernier!!!??? Why don't we have him signed up yet??!! I'm panicking!!!

Mark B said...

Kudos on the post. I have to admit that I feel disappointed when I check the Net and we haven't signed anybody, but my brain reminds me that having an insane GM would put us in a much worse spot.

amanda said...

Heather, if you read my comments from this morning (before I got sick of arguing with people about the same points over and over), you'll see that I totally agree with you. We're smart!

The money being thrown around was just plain silly. I have faith, Darcy!

Heather B. said...

Thanks, guys! Glad you're enjoying the post and glad that at least a handful of people out there agree with me. I think there's actually more coming on Darcy later today so prepare yourselves :P

Amy, I avoided Bucky for a while and finally caved. Enter eye-rolling here. I don't know, maybe I'll tackle a couple of things he said too.

Anne, I admit I had some moments of weakness regarding Darcy Tucker but I'll come down on Jochen's side against pretty much everyone. And even when I thought it I could never quite make myself type the words "Buffalo should get Darcy Tucker" so that's gotta be worth something :P

Elma, the Tampa thing was bugging me more than anything else and even Vogl, who I like a lot, was hitting that one pretty hard. Yeah, they signed a lot of people. Did all of the signings make sense for their needs and budget? I'm not so sure.

Lee, I think the Twins are a very a fitting comparison. Well done, Grasshopper! The Sabres main problem has been their slowness to replace certain assets after they lost them but overall I'd say their business plan is very similar to Minnesota's in a lot of way.

Erin, I don't think the Sabres are overly concerned with the remaining RFAs getting huge offers. I'm sure they'll get around to them eventually. That makes me a little nervous with Paille but one thing at a time. I'm sure Big Bear will be fine!

Vanek's Hair said...

I trust Darcy Reiger to build a very good team and put a competitive group on the ice. He was able to do so when there was $20 million disparity between his payroll and the high end of the NHL payrolls (sometimes more). Now he will only be $6 million below, assuming the Sabres spend around $50 million like they have said they will.

And you have to respect a guy who so proudly rocked the porn 'stache

Bobcat said...

And, of course, we do have the most important free agent signing for this team: A way to keep Thibault from ever pulling on the blue and gold again. That alone makes this a successful free agency run.

Lee Andrew said...

Oh and another thing, nice toy comparison, but I don't think we break our stuff as easily as you do. How many iPods have you had now??? The only toy I remember being destroyed was my Mr. T doll and that an unusual circumstance.

Heather B. said...

I've had my current iPod for over a year now thank you very much. In fact, it's starting to act up a bit and I'm hoping it kicks it before my warranty runs out. I did have to get the previous one replaced three times but it's not my fault that I kept getting bad ones that don't do well with being bounced off pavement at bicycling speeds.

Toys today are not of the highest quality. They certainly can't hold up to the wear and tear of an NHL career. Wait, I might've lost the metaphor there...

Mr. T, yeah that was a tough end. (Death by melting in the oven) RIP, T. I pity the fool.

And you have to respect a guy who so proudly rocked the porn 'stache

I know, right? Why hasn't this made TBN yet?

Patty (in Dallas) said...

They're shopping Smitty already?? You think they'd take a reprehensible jerk in a trade? He's a forward!

Y'all are so lucky. My stupid GM didn't spend $10 million on somebody, but he did the only thing that's worse.

twoeightnine said...

Only two things come from Texas. Avery sure as hell isn't a steer.